My PM students are articulating insights about projects that I'm happy to see. One project team said this in their charter, “The value of the product is moving the paper successfully across the room. The value of the project is in the journey, not the destination.”
Some projects exist to see if the project team can proceed with a project — any project. For example, a Hudson Bay start, where you organize a project team to deliver something, to make sure everyone on the project understands how to do his or her part, is a project-within-a-project. (See here for some discussion on it.) The idea behind a Hudson Bay Start is that you move something through the entire project, from requirements through architecture and design, into implementation, test, and release. By trying everything on something small, the entire project team will see where they are more likely to run into trouble on big things.
Some projects exist to create some form of capability within the team. For the class, each team is learning how to set up and monitor projects — a new capability for some people. This project will be a success for each team if the teams learn how to set up projects for success — not if the team creates the deliverable.
Each project has a specific value to the organization. Sometime the value is in the deliverable. Sometimes the value is in increasing the capability of some or all of the people on the project team. Maybe the value is yet something else. No matter what, the effective and pragmatic project manager will define the value of this project early so that everyone understands it. When everyone has a common value project goal, everyone can focus their efforts on that value and no other value.