Are You Failing Right?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

No organization approves a project expecting it to fail. Of course, some initiatives are known to be higher risk than others, some have definitions of success that aren’t what is expected, and some have stretch goals that leadership recognizes may not be completely achievable. But no one approves a project expecting it to fail. Yet projects still fail. Even the most successful organizations have projects that miss their objectives, and virtually all organizations have projects that are either cancelled before completion or are allowed to continue after they should have been cancelled.

Failure is an inevitability given the way projects are conceived and approved. Organizations must commit to project investments when there are still a tremendous number of unknowns and only through execution can some of the assumptions be validated or identified as incorrect. Even if the world stood still some of the incorrect assumptions would result in projects that are unable to succeed. Of course, the world doesn’t stand still. It is moving faster than it ever has and the chances of success are impacted by technological advancements, competitor and supplier actions, customer expectations, etc. All of these create opportunities and threats that impact a project’s ability to deliver result—sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. It’s fair to say that in today…

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