Why Do Projects Fail? - A contrarian POV

Earlier today I came across an article entitled, "Why Do Projects Fail? - Learning how to avoid failure."  An engaging topic to be sure. Especially for me, since I'm in the business of helping folks deliver successful projects and managing the change which often accompanies those projects.

Well the article rounded up the usual suspects of project requirements, losing focus, disengagement, impossible deliverables, the wrong deliverables, the wrong project statement, governance and poor implementation. Now I'm not going to debate the importance of everyone of the stated reasons in the article, but I am going to take issue with the basic premise of a project' existence. The single item above which get's closest to this idea is the 'wrong project statement.'

Project Statements and Their Assumptions

We begin a project with the best intentions in place. Thinking that it will deliver clear benefits to it's constituent users and make their lives better. But hold on a minute. Who asked the question about why this idea came about in the first place. Why did they think this was a good idea? Who is the real champion behind this idea and why are they interested? What is the failure surrounding this project's initiation? What is the value of that Failure? Even more importantly, what causes the failure in the first place?

Did you catch on the Who, What When, Where, Why theme. As a long-time problem solver both in the singular and collaborative group context, often I've found few, if any, of the above questions or others similar have been asked and seriously answered. In many cases the key question is about the failure surrounding the genesis of the project in the beginning. More than once when looked at closely, this failure value question gets to the heart of where the real solution lies and more than likely, the solution wasn't what people thought it should be.

So the assumptions made at the beginning of projects are more likely to contribute to the failure of a project simply because the problem statement is all wrong from the beginning. It is of no consequence if there was complete engagement, perfect execution and implementation; in the end the project will fail to survive because it serves no real purpose of delivers any significant value and will be abandoned.

I mention this not from the perspective of building projects so much as the processes we use to deliver projects. Often our efforts to make our businesses more effective only continues to contribute to the confusion and failure within and between organizations. We find ourselves chasing rabbits, ghosts and digging holes for no reason. All the ineffectual, "Stupid" stuff many of us deal with daily.

The Challenge

So the next time someone proposes a project, find out if it can stand the scrutiny of the Who, What, When, Where and Why sisters. If it does, then likely you are on the right path and success is more likely than if you don't.

This is a continuing series of monographs and conversations about the Connections of ideas as Strings and Links of overlapping ideas dealing with project management, business management, business processes and project delivery.
Remember "Collaboration is the Glue of Success."

No comments:

Post a Comment