• DM

Why Projects Fail!

Updated: Nov 16, 2019

Most projects fail because of people, communication and collaboration. They are the three essentials in everything we do successfully. When people are not aligned and on the same page from the get go, individual opinions, silo groups and private agendas take over. There is no one answer. But there is something you can do to get the group aligned and on the same page before you begin.



Ten Reasons Why Projects Fail


There are 10 reasons why projects fail and the reasons for project failure are well known, but the real reasons for project failure are due to people and communication. In all the reasons above, a persona or multiples are involved. The introduction of a tool in the hope to fix the problem will actually exaggerate it.


Hardwired to Communicate


Every day, we communicate face-to-face, by phone, email, text and online. The human brain has evolved with our social nature, meaning we are hard-wired to communicate. Despite this natural predisposition, communication is a common cause of project failure. Research conducted in 2013 by the Project Management Institute (PMI) confirms this! Projects are still failing. Let's look at some hard facts about why projects fail.


The Hard Facts


The hard facts to why projects fail are:

  • 33% of the time Ineffective communication is the main contributor to project failure.

  • 56% of budgets allocated to projects are at risk due to poor communication.

  • High-performance organisations who finished 80% of projects are twice as likely to have communication plans in place.

  • 33% of failed projects are due to poor stakeholder engagement.

  • 47% of failed projects are linked to requirements management. Within these failed projects, 75% reported that poor communication led to mis-planned requirements.Neither are consequences of poor project management or consequences of poor project planning.

  • A 2012 study published in the Harvard Business Review discovered that communication is the key indicator of a team’s success.

Communication and Collaboration is Key


Collaboration is impossible without team communication! And real collaboration is what is needed not vanity collaboration which feels like we're communicating effectively but the truth prevails in the end when the project just doesn't deliver.


The PMI says the solution to this is

  • Have a plan (people) Engage stakeholders (people)

  • Encourage team communication (people)

  • Use project management software (people)

This is all to do with people and when people don't align, when they're not on the same page, when they're allowed to renegade, the organisation will experience project failure!!! So the question begs, how do you manifest effective communication without having to worry about people and their personalities? Is there an answer? Yes.


First, Get on the Same Page


You give them something to help them align, move forward and ultimately get on the same page with. There is a tried and tested process that ensures every member of the team:-

  • Contributes equally and provides perspective

  • Makes decisions as a team, not as any one individual.

  • Prioritise, scopes and de-scopes effectively.

  • Helps to deliver an agreed, unbiased objective solution

  • Are at the end of the day, all on the same page!

It's called The Project Vision Jam and it's underpinned by the fundamentals of Design Thinking and it's proved to be very effective at driving to solutions in a short period of time.


The Project Vision Jam


The Project Vision Jam is a collaborative communication process to get everyone on the same page prior to any serious investment being made.


So what does this process look like?

  • Identify the suite of key stakeholders and get them all in the room together.

  • Identify what success looks like for the session.

  • Provide the tried and tested process to allows for equal contribution, group prioritisation, group decision making and scoping of that which is of value to the business and the customer.

  • Run the team through the step-by-step process until completion.

  • Get them all on the same page - executive, sponsor, project team and customers.

  • Provide a report and identify a leadership team responsible for mitigating changes.

Let's dive deeper into that line of thinking in the next edition.

Design Moshpit (DM) are a boutique consultancy that facilitate purpose-built Design Thinking workshops. These Design Thinking Jams get pretty jam-packed, create a lot of conversation, collaboration and are serious fun! The place to start if you're new to it is with the Lightning Decision Jam.


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