Vision vs. Maintenance, Not Going Solo, and Project Roles

Seems to me, some people are wired for vision and others are wired for maintenance. There is nothing wrong with this, and recognizing this fact will help you.

Different skill sets

Vision people:

  • love to dream
  • speak to think
  • love starting
  • easily distracted
  • live in the future
  • focus on the outcome

Maintenance people:

  • love to plan
  • think to speak
  • love finishing
  • incredibly focused
  • live in the now
  • focused on the work

Get a partner

Don’t do your project alone. Find someone who compliments your skill set and personality, someone you trust at a core level, and get to work.

If you are a vision person, find a maintenance person. If your are a maintenance person, find a vision person.

Going at it alone is not fun. You will get lonely. You will get burned out trying to do the things that are outside of your skill set. Not to mention, it is great to have someone you are accountable to and who is accountable to you.

Planning and Project Roles

1. The Dream

This is the “what-if” stage where you go through possible ideas. Vision people love this stage because there possibilities are limitless. Here is the problem, though. It’s easy to get stuck here. It’s also easy to frustrate maintenance people in this stage because vision people talk about their “what-if’s” like they are concrete plans.

Vision people: Make sure you preface your “what-if’s” with , “This is not a concrete idea yet. What do you think about…”

Maintenance people: If you are not sure if it is a “what-if” or a concrete plan, ask.

2. The Vision

This is where you pull the “what-if” out of the cloud. Don’t get hung up on picking the perfect dream. The best dream is the one you pick and start putting action behind.

In this stage you give it walls and dress it up with details. This is the 5 year, 3 year, and 1 year plan. You should be able to describe what the end product looks like, the problem it solves. Use a story to paint a picture of what it will be. Make it simple, understandable, and invite questions. Write it down.

Vision people: Don’t get to this stage unless you are committed to the idea. There is a lot of work that comes after this, so don’t waste energy.

Maintenance people: Your wheels are already spinning about how to make this vision a reality. Poke holes in the vision. Ask, “Have you thought of…?” and “How will this work?” and “Why is it going to be this way instead of that way?”

3. The Plan

Vision people this part may scare you. Your vision sounds amazing and believable when you paint the picture with all of the positive energy and charisma you can muster. But a plan? A plan can make that pretty picture seem impossible.

Luckily, this is where maintenance people thrive. Maintenance people…this is the moment you have all been waiting for. Your main event.

There are a ton of steps between right now and a fully executed vision. That’s ok. My suggestion is to take your one year goal and break it in half.

Where do you need to be in 6 months to make one year a reality?

Great, now where do you need to be in 3 months to make 6 months a reality?

Awesome, now where do you need to be in 1 month to make 3 months a reality?

Hang in there. What are the next 5 things you need to do?

This is your plan. Write it down.

Vision people: Your job is to figure out if the plan is big enough for your vision.

Maintenance people: Your job is to determine if the plan vision is achievable. Why or why not?

Note: I am a vision person, so I say adjust the plan not the vision. Though, this may not be the right answer in every situation. Keep in mind, bigger plans invoke stronger motivation. No one gets pumped up about average.

4. Execution

Awesome lives and dies in this stage. Awesome thrives on intentional action.

It does not matter if you are a vision or maintenance person, you have a job do to. You must work the plan and check your progress daily.

Vision people: Ask, is our plan getting us to where we are going in the time we need to get there. Are the next 5 things we are choosing to do the right 5 things to be doing next?

Maintenance people: Ask, is our plan being executed on? If so, is there more we can accomplish in the same time? If not, where can we create efficiencies?

5. Momentum

Set mini milestones and celebrate when they are achieved. Build this into your project’s culture. This will build momentum.

Discouragement is the biggest momentum killer. It comes from focussing too much on the gap between where you are and were you want to be.

You can fight discouragement by doing the following:


  1. Read your 1 year vision. See it in your mind’s eye as if it is real.
  2. Repeat this for your 1 year, 6 month, 3 month, and 1 month goal.
  3. Look back at where you started.
  4. Write down your next 5 things.


  1. Reset your one-month vision.
  2. Celebrate your small milestones.

Are you vision or maintenance minded? How does thinking about about your skill set change the way you approach a project?