The Human Factor in Project Failure


After my presentation last Friday on Learning from Failure several audience members spoke to me. It was interesting that in each case they recognised issues that I had highlighted form projects they had knowledge of. Indeed at least one person thought they recognised Project B, but in fact they had not.

I suppose in one sense it was heartening to know that I had struck a chord, but in another sense it was sad that after so many years we still keep coming across many of the same issues time and time again.

When I made my opening remarks I suggested that perhaps a sub-title to the presentation might have been ‘Ego, Ambition and it’s impact on Projects’.

Certainly as I reflect further on the issues from these and other projects, it is clear that human behaviour has an immense impact, especially where culture and values are weak, in the sense that they permit people to ride roughshod over principle and process.

In my view you can have process and rules, but unless you have values which underpin culture the rules and processes wil matter little.

I am all for innovation,drive and ambition, but it needs to be combined with strategy and leadership. Unfettered and without a firm value foundation it can be dangerous. Not always, but sometimes.

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