3 ways to destroy a promising project

Because 70% of projects fail, it is probably beneficial to make a little list of how to increase the failure rate to 100%.

1.   Make an over-optimistic project plan

Projects exceed the budget by an average of 27%. Moreover, one-sixth of projects exceed the budget described in the project plan by 200%, while simultaneously projected completion time is stretched 1.7 times longer.  In an optimal situation, projects are slightly under-resourced and some of the key people in the project are also concurrently involved in a sufficient number of other projects. This ensures that changes in one project are cumulatively fatal to as many projects as possible.

One would think that the larger the project, the more likely it has been planned with care. However, according to a US study, projects over $1 000 000 are more than 50% times more likely to fail than projects under $350 000. Moreover, nearly one-fifth of major IT system projects fail so badly that they threaten the very existence of the entire organization.

2. Ensure that key persons’ operational objectives conflict with the projects in which they are involved

By making sure this occurs, you are creating a culture of failure throughout your organization. As sad as it sounds, almost 80% of executives say that their own personal goals are not aligned with major projects. This can be enhanced even farther by ensuring that key individuals’ goals not only conflict with the goals of the project but also between the individuals themselves. According to a study, three-quarters of people in these organizations feel that projects are condemned before they have even begun.

3. Don’t pay attention to project management

In terms of failure, it is dangerous to pay too much attention to project management. Namely, 4/5 of successful projects are led by certified project managers. In the same vein, it is worth noting that almost 90% of organizations, whose projects regularly succeed, use some kind of project management software. If an organization has any methodologies for project management and monitoring, there is a high risk that projects will stay on budget, stay on schedule, and meet set goals and quality standards.

If you really want to focus on leadership though, by all means, focus on either micro-management or total self-direction. The third effective way is to create a structure that is as unclear as possible, where each participant in the project receives contradictory instructions from a sufficient number of sources. At best, top management finally flattens project management with its own surprising interference. Choose any of these ways to lead projects and I guarantee you will create enough confusion and irritation, and lower motivation.

Through successful management of the 3 previously listed areas, the failure of a project is already quite advanced. However, if there is yet a need for fine-tuning, the next step is to ensure that the project team’s internal operation and collaboration do not work properly. Statistics show that nearly 60% of projects stumble due to poor communication. This can be quickly enhanced by spreading rumors, gossiping, unjust rewards, and ever-changing priorities. For best results, change the project manager and key persons frequently enough to ensure that no one becomes bored in their role.

How well are your projects managed?

Pekko Nieminen

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