PART A: summary of the article
Project management technique is becoming a highly accepted way of carrying out different ranges of organization tasks. Companies are coming to term with the benefits that can be derived from this management which include efficient use of resources, better communication and rapid development of products. Project management is now widely used in many corporations, for example, hospitals, manufacturing industries, and even legal firms. All have experienced improvements in their service delivery and product creation that it has afforded. The article examines why there are project failures and disasters by asking three specific questions. The first question is whether the investment is worthwhile; the second asks if it went according to plan and the third seeks to know if it did or did not go like planned and the reasons. It seeks to outline that all successful companies make mistakes and that there is space for learning from them. Discarding all mistakes is not appropriate; some should be used for learning purposes.
It outlines a quick guide on what can ruin a project by highlighting twelve mistakes a project manager can make. These are; ignoring the project environment, pushing new technologies quickly to the market, not bothering to build a fall back plan, having a scapegoat when a problem occurs rather than addressing it, killing the momentum of an idea by leaving it dormant for too long, not conducting viability studies for the project, never admitting failure, over bureaucracy in terms of project management, not conducting reviews after failure, not bothering to understand alternatives, allowing political interference and infighting to determine important decisions and finally a weak project leader.
PART B: It would seem that some of the 12 points on how to ensure a project's failure might be inconsistent. How might you reconcile these inconsistencies?
Some of the twelve might have inconsistencies between each other; for example, pushing new technologies quickly to the market and killing the momentum of an idea by leaving it dormant for too long. The statement tells us to wait and be patient before taking action and the other tells us not to let ideas lay around. These two statements, in a way, contradict each other. In the first instance, it tells us that when one gets an idea, you have to run it through viability tests before implementing it. The other tells us to implement fresh ideas without delay. These contradictions can be reconciled to complement each other by having one common mistake which states; not having a policy that thoroughly evaluates idea without taking too much time. The policy will check the new idea for viability without risking springing it into the market too quickly.
One of the mistakes in the article is not involving stakeholders. This clearly points out that stakeholders should be involved. Most stakeholders include politicians and people in power. This contradicts with another mistake which the writer highlights as allowing political interference. The article is now trying to say that decisions should be made without stakeholders. The contradiction can be corrected by having one common project mistake that states; not having an independent decision-making board for the project. This will take care of the political interference that might hinder the project and still involve the major stakeholders in the decision-making.
The article shows us one mistake as letting an idea lie for too long, the same article tells that it is a mistake not conducting viability research. This is a contradiction since for a company to carry out any thorough viability studies it needs a lot of time and energy in terms of input and manpower. Therefore, the idea will end up stalling as it undergoes research and hence committing the mistake of letting an idea lie for too long. The contradiction can be corrected by having one common mistake stating; not having a policy that outlines the steps and stipulates the time that the viability studies will take. This will take care of the project research mistake and would not let the idea stall for long since it has a simulated time frame that has to be adhered to.
The writer of the article points out that it is a mistake to blame somebody for the project failure and penalize them. He goes ahead to compare this to having a "scapegoat" for the failure, but the same writer goes ahead to say that the company has to accept project failure. How can a company accept failure without having to blame someone for it? That means the company has to have someone to blame which is the same as having a "scapegoat". The writer has, therefore, contradicted himself. This contradiction can be corrected by coming up with one common mistake that states; not having a policy that clearly outlines who is to blame if the project fails. This will address the issue of having "scapegoats" and will also help the company to be able to accept failure.
PART C: In what ways do you think organizations might facilitate the notion of "learning from mistakes"?
The article has come out and stated that the mistakes that companies make can be used as learning examples. There are a number of ways in which the company can facilitate this notion. One method could be the implementation of a policy that will outline the procedure that will review the failed project, clearly pick out the mistakes and compile them. The other method is to pick out a team of analysts to review this mistakes with an aim of coming up with findings that will ensure the mistakes will not happen again. Next, the company should set up workshops with project managers and their teams to educate them on what happened in the failed project, and how to avoid similar future mistakes in next projects. With these mechanisms in place, the company can protect itself from repeating the same mistake in future projects.