Your Next Project Will Fail

Are you planning to launch a new company brand in 2017? Putting together a regional sales strategy that aims to steal clients from your biggest competitor? Are you working on an update for a mobile app?

Whatever you’re doing, stop right now and take a deep breath. Your next project will probably fail.

Why Projects Fail

Most of the time projects fail because people fail to be brave and bold when it counts: In the beginning when everything is on the table but people are too scared to voice their concerns.

How many of us have sat quietly through planning meetings knowing that not enough budget has been allocated to a project? Most employees would rather work on a failing-but-funded project than raise their hands and ask tough questions about leadership, priorities and money. If the project is in Basecamp or Trello<, let’s not ask too many questions and jeopardize our paychecks and our good standing with the bossman.

What about beginning a project knowing that a leader isn’t fully committed to an idea? How many of us start something only to have it waylaid for the umpteenth time by a VP who didn’t communicate properly, has unrealistic expectations or is playing a political game that we don’t understand?

Projects fail for a lot of technical and philosophical reasons, but they also fail because there isn’t a confidential way for workers to raise red flags at the beginning of a project or to speak candidly potential blind spots.

Social cohesion and camaraderie are essential components for effective teams. But if you work in a culture of magical thinking, most of your projects are doomed unless there’s a way to facilitate respectful conversations about failure.

Make a Commitment to Success

Successful teams have one core competency: They plan for conflict and failure. Those strong teams beat failure by spending time thinking about risk and uncertainty on the front end of projects instead of reacting to unforeseen events on the back end of assignments.

Want to make a commitment to success? Plan for failure. Talk about what you’ve done wrong in the past, laugh at your mistakes and get radically candid about what you want to avoid in the future.

Failure is inevitable, and, according to Kelly Clarkson, will make you stronger. But let’s make a commitment to stop failing in the same old mediocre ways. Let’s start failing in new and more interesting ways.

That’s what growth and success is all about.

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