Visualization Checklist

Photo by Lilly

How do you visualize the goal?  Whenever you work on a project, one of the most important things to know is how the world will be different when you’re done.  This is where expectations are set and how people get excited about what they’ll work on.  This is how you’ll keep yourself going day in and day out throughout the project.  In How to Run Successful Projects III: The Silver Bullet (3rd Edition), Fergus O’Connell provides a visualization checklist to help you visualize the end in mind.

Visualization Checklist
O’Connell provides the following checklist items:

  • What will the goal of the project mean to all the people involved in the project when the project completes?
  • What are the things the project will actually produce?  Where will these things go?  What will happen to them?  Who will use them?  How will they be affected by them?
  • What will the completion of the project mean to the team as a whole and to each of its members?
  • Why do they want to do this project?
  • Why do you want to do it?
  • What will life be like on the day/week the project completes?
  • What will you do that day?  During that week?  What will be your routine?
  • Your schedule?  Where will you eat?  Whom will you meet?  What will be the topics of conversation with these people?
  • What will people be saying of the project and its deliverables?  You? Your boss?  The people who worked on the project?  The customer for whom you carried the project out?
  • What would you like an audit of the project to be reporting?
  • How will you feel?
  • What do you think people will be saying about you?  Your boss? Peers? Subordinates?  The projects’s customer?  Other parts of the organization?
  • What will be your ambitions/hopes/dreams on that day?
  • Will your standard of living have changed?
  • Will your position within the organization have changed?
  • Will your view of yourself have changed? If so, how so?
  • Do you think it is a difficult task you have set yourself?
  • Could it fail?
  • How could you feel then? What would you do?
  • Will you have power you don’t have at the moment?
  • Will you have changed as a person? If so, how?
  • What sort of recognition will you achieve for this project?
  • What would you like to do after the project is over?
  • What would the best possible outcome of this project be?

Lessons Learned at Microsoft
If I don’t have a good vision for a project, I don’t start.  I need to work backwards from the end in mind, and I need to believe that the end in mind is worth spending my energy.  One of my mentors taught me to think of the solution from a time perspective and an ecosystem perspective.  Thinking about the solution in terms of time helps you chunk it up and version it.  What should the solution look like in 6 months?  What should it look like in a year?  Throwing time at it helps sanity check whether the right things will happen at the right time in the right sequence.   The solution is not static.  How will it erode or grow stronger over time?  Thinking about the problem in terms of an ecosystem forces you to think about who or what will interact with the solution.  This helps you identify the key relationships of the solution to other solutions and efforts.