In Bob Lewis' book, he speaks about the importance of a project having a purpose. Often, in fact, a project has a purpose, but the purpose is vague. Especially in technology, people know that technology can lead them to great places, but they skip the part of thinking about how to get there. So it can look like a project has a great purpose, but place holders can become goals.
For example, a company may want to have very flexible software to be able to flexibly control business logic without development, increasing revenue by allowing the business to adapt quickly, and reducing on-going development costs. It will then decide that having a good workflow will help with this (the place holder).
Half way into the project, the workflow becomes the purpose, but the software ends up being very development intensive when it comes to the interaction with the user. The workflow, however, functions great. The goal was too hard, so a proxy was put in its place.
And the project was a great success, but not at doing anything anybody wanted.