Posted by: kenwbudd | March 29, 2010

Early warnings: The IT project failure dilemma

Early warnings: The IT project failure dilemma

I am confident that you will recognise the following dangerous “big project psychologies” and behaviours:

  • Wishful thinking: we’ll be able to launch on time, because we really want to
    Self-congratulation: we’ve been working awfully hard, so we must be making good progress
  • Testosterone: nobody’s going to see us fail. We ROCK!
  • Doom-and-gloom fatalism: we’ll just keep coming in every day and do our jobs, and what happens, happens. (See Dilbert, virtually any strip).
  • Denial: the project just seems to be going badly right now; things are really OK.
  • Gridlock: the project is stuck in a kind of limbo where no one wants to make certain key decisions, perhaps because then they’ll be blamed for the failure
  • Moving the goal posts: for example, we never really intended to include reports in the system. And one week of testing will be fine; we don’t need those two weeks we planned on.

An experienced Project Manager or good project leader, will of course be aware of all of these syndromes, and know when to probe, when to regroup, when to shuffle the deck.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the leaders themselves who succumb to those behaviours and for people on the project periphery, such as other C-level executives, it’s hard to know whom to listen to on the team.


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