Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Every (Failed) Project Has ‘Success' Story To Tell

#SridharPeddisetty #LessonsLearned #Management #Project #BestPractices #Agile #ProjectManagement 

A 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…
“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”
Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity,
suddenly he again exclaimed…
“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”
The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man…
“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”
The old man smiled and said…
“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.
We should not judge too soon before knowing all facts as at times the truth might surprise you. Every single person on the planet is unique and has a story to share. Similarly, every project is unique and has a ‘success’ story to tell even if it failed to meet its objectives in the eyes of stakeholders. By definition, project is a temporary unique endeavor having start-end timelines with a defined scope & resources with planned set of interrelated tasks executed to accomplish goal(s). 
There are many means to measure the success and failure of a project but there is no strict line dividing between the two. For instance, a ‘successful' project could have exceeded the planned budget or went over scheduled delivery date or could even not have provided all the planned functionalities upon completion. Whereas a ‘failed’ project could have a release with all planned features but missed the critical market launch or could not align with the direction of new leadership team. Brian K Willard in his Project Success and Failures article has shared examples, which strengthens the point that success or failure of a project are subjective. 
In my earlier post, Why Sharing Lessons Learned Is Key For Matured PMO, I discussed why sharing 'lessons learned' across teams is one of the key aspects of a matured PMO in an Organization. A well organized exercise to document 'Lessons learned’ would include identifying the ‘success’ factors of a project and understand how to repurpose it for future or existing projects. Success factors that could be salvaged from a ‘failed’ project could be
  • An improvement to internal process(s) 
  • An improvement in technical skill(s) of the resource(s) 
  • An improvement to service(s) for the end customer 
  • An improvement to save cost in utilizing key resource(s)
The exploitation of knowledge and experience gained from completed projects is very critical for a matured organization and application of the same for continuous improvements.  


To summarize, do not judge a ‘failed' project too soon without getting specific facts for learning lessons. It's important to identify and share the ‘success’ value of a project even if it failed to meet its main strategic goals.
Remember not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!
Previous posts you might be interested in: