Project failure – do we ever learn?

Along with 150 other people I attended the British Computer Society Lovelace lecture in central London. The lecture given by Maurice Perks an IBM Fellow was entitled “The sins of IT projects and why they can.” The 8 sins he identified are:

1. The Challenge of Scale
2. Middleware or Fiddleware?
3. Method or Madness?
4. Where are we?
5. Software development is still an art
6. Integration, the final frontier
7. Will it really work?
8. Change our greatest Challenge

I will not go into the content of the presentation as you can view the slides and the video yourself (see links later in the article) however what struck me was the word failure! ALL of the above points are not new so why still make the same mistakes. If we make the same mistakes we cannot be learning. I believe we have forgotten how to learn, how to avoid making the same mistakes time and time again.

Hal Macomber in a Blog suggested that “Project performance reviews are dead; long live performance reviews”. I would not go that far but would say that we will continue to fail in delivering unless we learn how to avoid the same mistakes.

Failure to learn is a cardinal error.

You can catch the Lovelace lecture here

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3 Responses to Project failure – do we ever learn?

  1. Another approach is to think in terms of deviation. There is no one size fits all, each organization needs to come up with KPIs to measure the deviation and strive to constantly reduce it. I feel rather than think in terms of Success/Failure, we will push the deviation approach.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Pingback: Learning from project failures | Ron Rosenhead's Project Management Blog

  3. Pingback: Why Are Only 32% of Projects Successful? « Strategic Project Portfolio Management

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