“Win?” Or “Lose?”
Which would you rather choose?
In a recent webinar on this site, I asked participants whether any had a 100% record of project success.
“LOL!” “Are you kidding?” “Yeah, right!” These were some of the responses, with many others on similar lines.
Projects fail. Frequently. Across industries. All over the world. Project failure rates can be as high as 70%.
As developers, designers, and team leads who showed the most initiative and dynamism, my spouse and I were pitchforked into project management with no training. It was like being blindfolded and left alone in a dangerous jungle.
We started with mistakes and failures.
Around 2002, we had our first formal training and in 2005, achieved the prestigious Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. We then started applying best practices to our projects.
At first, it wasn’t easy. We continued to fail. We learned from those failures.
Sustained effort and continual learning brought small successes first. We learned much from amazing mentors. Our project success rates grew.
Soon, we were training professionals through PM best practice workshops and certification prep courses.
Theory or Practice?
Attendees would often ask us for resources to learn more best practices.
We knew of many great resources on the theory of project management. However, there were not too many that dealt with practical project success tools and techniques.
“Don’t cook eggplant dishes with printed pictures of the vegetable.” That’s a famous adage in my mother tongue, the ancient language Tamil.
Theory is indeed important. However, practice is critical.
Secret Sauce of Success
Amidst so much failure, delivering results can accelerate career progress. A shining example is Padma Vibhushan Dr. E Sreedharan. Starting as a student in a small village school, he studied to be an engineer. Over time, he grew to become one of the most accomplished project managers in the world. A M Naik who retired as Chairman of Larsen & Toubro (L&T), one of India’s most respected conglomerates, is another great example.
What were the key ingredients in their success?
Determination. Hard work. Continuous learning. A fourth recurring theme was a consistent track record of delivering project success.
Over the past decade, we put together a set of tips and techniques that helped us to deliver many successful projects across four continents. Clients we helped suggested their tweaks to our approach. Later, they shared personal success stories in implementing the techniques.
Thus the idea of this blog and our book, “Say YES to Project Success,” with a laser focus on proven, practical success techniques.
Why do Projects Fail?
To target success, we first focused on top project failure factors.
We carried out an in-depth analysis of project failure across several published global studies.
Using a “poll of polls” approach, we took each failure factor in each study, assigning weights based on where each factor ranked.
For example, if a study listed 10 reasons for project failure, the top factor would be assigned a “1.0” weight, with the last one assigned a “0.1” weight. Similarly, the top factor in a study of 20 failure factors would be assigned a “1.0” weight, with the last factor getting a “0.05” weight.
We then consolidated factors and weights across all the surveys.
Sorting in descending order of weights gave us a “Top 20” list of Global Project Failure Factors.
What do you think the Top factors would be?
See you soon!
Top 20 Project Failure Factors.