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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is a Data Philosopher at Andy Leonard Consulting, an SSIS Trainer, Consultant, and developer; a Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) developer and BimlHero; SQL Server database and data warehouse developer, community mentor, engineer, and farmer. He is a co-author of SQL Server Integration Services Design Patterns, and author of Managing Geeks - A Journey of Leading by Doing, and the Stairway to Integration Services.

Visions, Quests, Missions


Lately I've been thinking a lot about business stuff. Scary, I know.

This post is the second part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The first post is entitled Goodwill, Negative and Positive.

People Come First...

In his excellent book, Good to Great, Jim Collins makes the point that you start with the right people, and then go. That seems backwards to some. Shouldn't the Vision come first and then you go find the right people? No. Not according to Collins, and not according to my experience.

"How does that work, Andy?" I'm glad you asked! It's all about people. The premise is: Get the right people together and a good idea, well-executed, will fall out of the mix.

What about a business plan? What about all the other stuff you're supposed to do before building a team? There's a lot of evidence that says it really comes down to the team, and that the vision grows from the people.

...Then The Vision

Visions require a visionary. Visionaries are important to a business or project because they have a big picture in mind. They are usually good communicators, and they articulate the vision in a way that inspires the team. Some visionaries have little or no other skills - this doesn't decrease their value as the keeper of the vision; it just means you keep them away from the other work!

Not all visionaries are hands-off-the-code. I've worked with some stellar architects who are visionaries and great designers. Those folks are rare, but they exist.

A team of individuals guided by a vision of the end-product while working on a project with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose is ideal. These individuals are on a...


Quests share a couple characteristics. They are:

  • Difficult
  • Undertaken by heroes

There are lots of comparisons of project teams to quests. Why? We're rarely asked to do the same thing twice in the software business. There's always some challenge, some obstacle to overcome, something new.

When the project team consists of a lone individual, it's best described as a...


A mission is different from a mission statement. Mission statements are expressed and executed over time by groups; whereas missions are focused on a singular outcome. Mission statements are undertaken by groups, missionaries conduct missions.

A lot of businesses develop a mission statement as a first step in correcting their course or establishing goals - especially this time of year. A mission statement isn't a bad thing, it just doesn't belong at the top of the to-do list. "What belongs at the top of the top of the to-do list, Andy?" People (scroll up).

Get the right people on the team and the wrong people off the team. That second part may sound harsh, but think about it: You're not really doing anyone a favor by forcing them to participate on a team where they don't fit. And please listen: Not fitting on a team is not a mortal sin. It shouldn't be counted against you. You came, you saw, you worked hard, and it just didn't work out. That kind of stuff happens to everyone. "Everyone Andy?" Yep. Everyone.


In my experience, the order of operations for a successful team is:

  1. People
  2. Vision / Quest
  3. Mission

What works for you?

:{> Andy


Published Monday, January 04, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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Jack Corbett said:

Still trying to figure it out for sure, but the most successful projects I have worked on have had a visionary and the people rallied around them.  In my case there were good people there, but we wouldn't have accomplished much without the visionary.

It's almost a which came first the chicken or the egg situation.  Without good people a vision is never brought to fruition, but without a vision/visionary it's hard to bring good people together.

January 4, 2010 8:08 AM

K. Brian Kelley said:

I disagree, Jack. Good people will follow a leader they trust, even if the mission isn't well defined. Case in point: Bill Cowher doesn't have a job yet, but he's already making contacts among possible assistants. You could say his vision is winning with a new NFL team, but that's a bit of a stretch.

January 4, 2010 1:08 PM

Ash said:

Not sure of good people.  It probably meant to be right people.

March 25, 2011 6:48 PM

Ash said:



Vision / Quest


This is more like Vision-->People(are part of the mission-who are built (often times in the real world bought) into that vison )

when you have a vision - you bring people who believe in that vision

and set them out on the mission.

It is very important to not only to have a vision but also proactively look and find what lies ahead

Just random thoughts.

March 25, 2011 6:55 PM

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