Different country, same project management issues

This last 2 years has seen me visit Switzerland (4 times), Northern Ireland (twice), Amsterdam, USA (3 times) and UAE. (This is in addition to the many different visits to various parts of mainland UK.) The experience has been good and the groups very passionate about learning and project management.

I usually include a session on what goes wrong in projects. What is interesting is that all of the points raised are not new and are covered in most of the countries visited. They include:

  • scope creep
  • sponsors/project management roles not being clear
  • unclear objectives
  • poor risk management
  • the need for well trained resources (not necessarily project management skills)
  • competing priorities
  • too many projects
  • failing to engage effectively with stakeholders & lack of engagement by stakeholders

All the above were given as indicators of project management problems.

sam leveson quote

This leads me to ask several questions:

  • Why am I getting repeat project management problems – why aren’t companies sorting out these issues?
  • Where is the leadership (and ownership) in companies? A strong word about the need for say better scope management is surely better than sending someone to a project management course for a few days?
  • Why are risks so poorly managed exposing companies to many possible scenarios?
  • Besides sending a few people on a 2 day course what else are they doing to try and create a culture where project management is values and used?

Sir Michael Gershon said when referring to project management failures: “Failure for novel reasons is still a novelty.”  In other words, we know all of the reasons why projects fail however we fail to do anything about them.

I will write next week about learning and the different ways people think learning can be shared within their companies.

But, my question for you is this; why are we repeating the same mistakes over and over again?

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2 Responses to Different country, same project management issues

  1. Tom Hussey says:

    I’m currently reading Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday. I can recommend it.

    I certainly think ego has a lot to do with the problem here. To want to learn and grow as a person and a project manager, you have to get better at listening and stop pretending that you know everything and that you’re always right. But this takes a certain amount of vulnerability …

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Hi Tom, thanks for the book suggestion.

      I think there is a lot to what you say. I reflected that if all companies applied common sense to projects then their results would be a huge improvement in delivering their strategy….but there does not seem too much of it around! Common sense includes learning and growing. That is learning from each other as well as self.

      As Sam Levenson said: “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself”

      Best wishes Ron

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