Tag Archives: project failures

A 90% Project Failure Rate Means You’re Doing it Wrong

A 90% Project Failure Rate Means You're Doing it Wrong

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

For work that has not been done before, there’s no right answer. The only wrong answer is to say “no” to trying something new. Sure, it might not work. But, the only way to guarantee it won’t work is to say no to trying.

If innovation projects fail nine out of ten times, you can increase the number of projects you try or you can get better at choosing the projects to say no to. I suggest you say learn to say yes to the one in ten projects that will be successful.

If you believe that nine out of ten innovation projects will fail, you shouldn’t do innovation for a living. Even if true, you can’t have a happy life going to work every day with a ninety percent chance of failure. That failure rate is simply not sustainable. In baseball, the very best hitters of all time were unsuccessful sixty percent of the time, yet, even they focused on the forty percent of the time they got it right. Innovation should be like that.

If you’ve failed on ninety percent of the projects you’ve worked on, you’ve probably been run out of town at least several times. No one can fail ninety percent of the time and hold onto their job.

If you’ve failed ninety percent of the time, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’ve failed ninety percent of the time, you’ve likely tried to solve the wrong problems. If so, it’s time to learn how to solve the right problems. The right problems have two important attributes:

  1. People will pay you if they are solved
  2. They’re solvable

I think we know a lot about the first attribute and far too little about the second. The problem with solvability is that there’s no partial credit, meaning, if a problem is almost solvable, it’s not solvable. And here’s the troubling part: if a problem is almost solved, you get none of the money. I suggest you tattoo that one on your arm.

As a subject matter expert, you know what could work and what won’t. And if you don’t think you can tell the difference, you’re not a subject matter expert.

Here’s a rule to live by: Don’t work on projects that you know won’t work.

Here’s a corollary: If your boss asks you to work on something that won’t work, run.

If you don’t think it will work, you’re right, even if you’re not.

If it might work, that’s about right. If it will work, let someone else do it. If it won’t work, run.

If you’ve got no reason to believe it will work, it won’t.

If you can’t imagine it will work, it won’t.

If someone else says it won’t work, it might.

If someone else tries to convince you it won’t work, they may have selfish reasons to think that way.

It doesn’t matter if others think it won’t work. It matters what you think.

So, what do you think?

If you someone asks you to believe something you don’t, what will you do?

If you try to fake it until you make it, the Universe will make you pay.

If you think you can outsmart or outlast the Universe, you can’t.

If you have a bad feeling about a project, it’s a bad project.

If others tell you that it’s a bad project, it may be a good one.

Only you can decide if a project is worth doing.

It’s time for you to decide.

Image credit: Pixabay

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What is the Cost of a Failed Change Initiative or Innovation Project?

What is the Cost of a Failed Change Initiative or Innovation Project?

It seems like a simple question.

One that you would expect to lead to some risk mitigation behavior, but it doesn’t.

And when you consider that companies are spending an increasing amount of their budget on technology and working to transform their operations to be more digital in order to provide a better experience for customers, employees, partners and suppliers while simultaneously creating a more efficient and effective business, you would think that companies would do everything possible to make sure that these projects succeed, but they don’t.

Everyone knows that a lot of technology projects fail to achieve their intended objectives, timings, and budgets. This fact and the increasing investment levels should cause more executives to look for ways to de-risk these technology investments in digitizing the business, but they’re not.

Why is that?

Are we really so afraid of learning new ways of doing things that would dramatically reduce the risk and expense of project failures that we will continue using the old ways even though we know they don’t work?

Even though there are incredibly inexpensive and easy ways of reducing both the risk of project failures and the cost of project execution, patterns of behavior are not changing…

Perhaps you see the world differently.

Perhaps you’re fed up with project failures and want to increase the speed of both change execution and change adoption.

Consider answering these five simple questions before spending a single minute on your next innovation project, change initiative, or digital transformation effort:

  1. How much is an hour of your time worth to the company you work for? (multiply this by the number of hours you expect to invest in this project or initiative)
  2. What is the fully-loaded monetary value of the time that employees are going to spend on this project or initiative?
  3. How much do you pay to a single contract project manager to spin up a project before the first minute of actual work begins? Over the life of the project?
  4. How much are you planning to spend with consulting companies on this project or initiative?
  5. How much are you planning to spend on contractors to staff this project or initiative?

Get access to the Change Planning Toolkit for less than $100Have you got the numbers in your mind?

Now, are any of these numbers $100 or more?

I’m sure they are, unless of course you’re going to do the project yourself in less than an hour and don’t value your time very much.

So, what if I told you that for less than $100 you could plan and execute your change initiatives, innovation projects and transformation investments in a much more visual and collaborative way and simultaneously reduce the chances of project failure and the cost of executing your project?

Well, you can. You just have to be willing to challenge orthodoxies and use a new set of tools, a new approach, that will feel very natural and empowering if you’re already comfortable with the Business Model Canvas, Lean, Design Thinking, or the Lean Startup.

All you need to get started is a copy of my latest book Charting Change and a $99.99/yr license for the Change Planning Toolkit™ (which comes with a QuickStart Guide). In exchange you’ll get tools worth more than $1,200 and will help to support the creation of the Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™.

It’s as simple as that.

And to get you started if you’re still unsure, go ahead and grab the 10 Free Downloads and the poster-size Visual Project Charter™ and the poster-size Experiment Canvas™ from the under-construction Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™.

Let’s change change and keep innovating – together!

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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