Project Management

Visionate: The What? (Part 1) -- Capturing the Sponsor’s Vision

Doug is the author of the landmark book, Extreme Project Management®: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility. He works with clients who undertake projects in very demanding environments: those settings that feature high speed, high change, high unpredictability and high stress. Doug has lived in the trenches—from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Beijing, China—with over 275 project teams with budgets that ranged from $25,000 to over $25 million. He is one of the founders of the Agile Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to connecting, developing and supporting great project leaders. He is known for his hard-hitting and humorous keynote speeches that address vital issues facing today’s project-based organizations. You can visit Doug at

Warning: The Menu is Not the Meal
You can only be successful in applying the definitions, doing the activities and using the tools that comprise the Flexible Project Model by infusing and deploying them with the underlying principles, values and practices of eXtreme Project Management. (See the Happy Clients diagram.)  

The purpose of the Visionate Cycle is to come to grips with the answer to Business Question 1: Who wants what and why? Although the answer to this question will evolve over a good portion of the project, we nonetheless need a starting point.

The Visionate Cycle (see Flexible Project Model Diagram) has two components:
  1. Discovering the Sponsor’s vision: Understanding what the sponsor is looking to do.
  2. Creating the Collective vision: Getting buy-in from other key stakeholders.
Discovering the Sponsor’s Vision
The assumption here is that you have discovered who the sponsor is. The sponsor is the individual who has a vested interest in the project’s outcome and can serve as a funder and chief barrier buster. Unless you have a viable sponsor you do not have a viable project. So go no further until you have one. Or find another project. Otherwise you’ll be going no where slowly, which is torture.

Here are some tips for identifying the true sponsor. Ask:
  • Who decided we should be taking on this initiative?
  • Whose…

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Love can sweep you off your feet and carry you along in a way you've never known before. But the ride always ends, and you end up feeling lonely and bitter. Wait. It's not love I'm describing. I'm thinking of a monorail.

- Jack Handey