Failure Repeats Itself

By Kim S. Nash  |  Posted Thursday, March 08, 2007 05:03 AM

We all know why projects fail, right? The people involved don't communicate well enough. No one's come up with a backup plan for when things go wrong. The goals are glorious, but the means to reach them—time, money—are meager.

The reasons for project failures might be so much I.T. motherhood and apple pie, but maybe we should review them anyway. CompTIA, the Computer Technology Industry Association, did a Web poll recently of 1,000 technology professionals about what causes projects to fail. The factors above made CompTIA's list, along with stuff like lack of buy-in (which 6.7% of respondents selected) and poor project requirements (cited by 9.8%).

So if we know all this already, I wonder, why do we keep failing? Seems like every person on the planet has to have these lessons personally taught to him before they sink in. And even then, the lessons learned must spontaneously combust after a short period, because we all know people who make the same mistakes again and again.

Maybe the key is to review failure factors again and again, when lists like CompTIA's come out. Eric Lundquist at sister publication eWeek has some good thoughts on the topic. And here's a good primer, from Coley Consulting, and another from Harvard Business Review.

Pass the apple pie.