The Attitudes Behind Project Success and Failure

By Ammar W. Mango

The impatient stakeholders are in a hurry to see results fast. Sometimes they read normal change resistance the wrong way and assume the project failed. Then their actions really make it fail.

It is important to understand that such stakeholders exist and it is better to learn to proactively manage their expectations and the effect their personalities have on the project, rather than being reactive to dealing with it after the fact. Sometimes, after the fact, there is not much that can be done.

Take for example the impatient stakeholders mentioned above. If they were clearly informed about the change process they must expect before they see sustainable and tangible results on the ground, would they still act impatiently?

The problem goes beyond personalities, to include the level of maturity the organization is at. For example, many clients buy a complex system that might provide more than what the organization is ready for at its current maturity level. Will the client understand this and give the teams and project managers to adapt? or start pushing for full implementation prematurely? Problems like these can easily lead to failure of what could have been successful implementations.

Sometimes client stakeholders are in a hurry for software and systems, forgetting that the human element is the most important part of the change, and requires that we change the way we work, and even the way we think and look at our projects.

The stakeholders can be challenging in the performing organization too. A business manager keen on getting the work done and getting out as quickly as possible from the project might lead to lack of trust from client.

It is a difficult recipe to master, when it comes to successfully carrying out improvement initiatives. There are so many variables on the human side alone that makes the undertaking quite challenging. However there are things that the stakeholders can do, under the leadership of management and the project manager to achieve success.

When human behavior is a factor, attitude is the essential starting point. On both the client and the supplier side we need conviction. Conviction that the improvement will provide value, if the project is done properly. Also, conviction that each party is competent enough to carry their part of the deal. And of course, trust, that each party wants to do a good job and is working towards a win-win outcome where the client and the suppliers attain value from the endeavor.

Unfortunately, sometimes these attitudes are not checked in the beginning, and ignored in favor of “more important things” like building a plan, meeting and discussing schedules, showing the other side “who’s boss,” etc.

If every project starts with an honest attempt to understand the underlying attitudes among stakeholders and their causes, then discussing them as candidly as possible, projects would have a much better track record than they do today.

There are ways to do this diplomatically without getting the project stakeholders to hate each other. I plan to talk about these in next blog entry. Until then, observe those attitudes, and check yours also while you are at it.

Ammar W. Mango, CSSBB, PgMP, PMP is an Organizational Project Management Consultant at Method (www.methodcorp.com). You can read more from Ammar on his blog.

Article source: http://www.pmhut.com/the-attitudes-behind-project-success-and-failure-part-i

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