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Project Success is a Choice, not Chance…

Project Success is a Choice, not Chance…

Naked Leader Week 895 – 26 October 2020

Time to read: 2 minutes

Following last week’s blog on simplifying meetings people have written to me about the scandal of major projects. Some have cited the spiralling cost of HS2 – budgeted at £56bn, it looks like it will be more than double that, and be delivered 4 years later than originally planned.

This is simply appalling, unacceptable and, most scarily, totally avoidable.

And its not just HS2 – there are so many other examples – you can find scores if not hundreds online.

The term ‘Project Management’ has become the most discredited, laughable and ironic business phrase.

Simon from Dublin asked – ‘Is there a ‘simple seven’ that we can apply to projects?

Yes, there is – with the understanding that simple is never easy. Flushing taxpayers or shareholders (e.g. pension funds) money down the toilet is easy, doing what needs to be done takes great bravery.

Project Leadership – The Simple Seven

0 The Foundation – use the Formula for Guaranteed Success

Know where you want to go: What’s the Outcome? Be 100% laser focused on that always – many projects fail because they lose sight of their outcome.

Know where you are now: See things as they are, not worse and not better than they are – this can only be done with a culture where people are free to speak their minds without fear or favour.

Know what you have to do: Use a simple one page, ongoing master project checklist – if a project status can’t be explained on a page then don’t do, or stop, the project.

Do It!…

  1. Don’t learn from project failures – learn from project successes, either within your own organisation, your own network or Naked Leader can put you in touch.
  2. The deadline date, and quality of the project are sacrosanct, and must be agreed and set in concrete. Let’s kill off forever this attitude that ‘Things always overrun on projects’ – they don’t.
  3. Every Project is a Business Project and as such must deliver 3 times more tangible, measurable financial value than it costs. If that can’t be proved, don’t start the project, or stop it.
  4. A clear, named single point of ownership for each and every project – responsible for ensuring the project succeeds. This leader must be given agreed, wide autonomy, have a very thick skin, and be an inspiration to others through their behaviour. They do not need to know the technical aspects or detail, indeed, its better if they don’t.
  5. Wrap your Project around your People, not the traditional other way around. Decide the skills, talents and behaviours that are needed in each Project Team, and match people to those, not the other way around e.g. whoever happens to be available.
  6. Successful Project Teams operate on the basis of Truth, Trust and Transparency.
  7. Ensure clear, numbered and transparent prioritisation of all projects across the organisation. That’s 1 to n. And if you feel particularly brave draw a line after the top 10% and stop doing everything else.

With my love and best wishes



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