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Well-known expert on why IT projects fail, CEO of Asuret, a Brookline, MA consultancy that uses specialized tools to measure and detect potential vulnerabilities in projects, programs, and initiatives. Also a popular and prolific blogger, writing the IT Project Failures blog for ZDNet.

One response to “AntiClue: Five reasons projects fail”

  1. Hobie Swan

    Hi Michael,
    In my experience working with project teams, I have noticed that teams rarely have a chance to sit together with customers (internal or external). Ideally, there should be an opportunity to, as you say, examine “deeper” issues… perhaps to deliberate on the purpose of the project, assumptions behind project goals, project scope, and the definition of failure.

    In the examples I’ve seen, teams have had better-than-average success by using a methodology known as ” mind mapping” to manage these kinds of sessions. Mind mapping enables groups of people (or individuals) to visually capture, organize, and annotate ideas and information. Since it uses key words and phrases instead of sentences and paragraphs, mind maps “move at the speed of thought” to capture brainstorming in real time. As the groups talks, an adept mindmapper can capture the conversation (ideally projecting the map on the wal so all can follow along). And when each participant can clearly see what’s being recorded, it’s often much easier to correct misunderstandings, mistakes and miscommunications that can lead to “solving the wrong problem.”

    I’m not saying there is a technological magic bullet that will eliminate every project foible. But I do think that if you give people the right tool–one that can help them get on the same page–chances are they will have a better understanding of what each party means to say.

    Mind mapping allows groups to capture ideas quickly, organize them until they make sense to all parties, publish the results in any number of formats, and then, finally, to create a kind of project portal by attaching to the map all manner of associated documents, web sites, emails, images, etc. There aren’t many softwares that enable you to aggregate such a diversity of information sources in one document.

    You may be interested in going to http://mapthink.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-conceptdraw-mindmap-to-gather_19.html to see and example of how mind mapping is used to gather requirements. Using mind maps, project teams can get the 30,000-foot view by “collapsing the map branches.” Alternately, they can open up these branches to dive way down into the weeds to get to them minutest details. The ability to toggle between overview and details gives project stakeholders the kind of perspective that can improve project success rates.

    One of the main challenges of project stakeholders is to make sure everyone involved has a common understanding of the project at hand.. Mind mapping is a dynamic, quickly learned–and often entertaining way to accomplish this.

    Thanks for an interesting article.
    Hobie Swan