3 symptoms of a failed project and the possible remedies for the same


Sixty-Eight percent of change initiatives fail. Some touch the finish line but miss expectations. Some achieve unfinished success. Some fizzle out and fade. Still, others are blocked purposely.

So, how can you tell if your project is at risk to experience a similar fate? Watch out for these three telltale signs your initiative is headed out to pasture.

  1. Leaders are troubled with the progress
    An organization’s leaders have restricted tolerance for continuing to put sources into something that doesn’t produce substantial benefits. If the enterprise is not matching expectations, they might make a determination to end it.

Example: A method development effort met its goals for developing ideas submitted by employees, but struggled to meet its financial objectives for cost reductions. After 18 months, top officials pulled the plug.

Remedy: Manage expectations. Report improvement. Generate output as soon as possible.

  1. People stick with the old way, even though it’s extra work
    When completing a new process, method, or tool, it is normal for people to multiply the job in parallel (both the old and new) for a limited period of time. If, after that time period is over, people still duplicate the same work with the old method, “just in case,” they are not yet satisfied that it will work for them. It is a sign that the new way will be discarded as soon as you turn your attention to something else.

Example: A new describing system made a production schedule maintained in an Excel spreadsheet redundant. The plant scheduler continued to enter the data into both systems, even after the trial period. Eventually, the new record was dropped.

Remedy: Fix what doesn’t work in the new scheme. Stick with it until the old tool is out of the flow.

  1. It falls off the schedule
    If your change enterprise is added to a meeting agenda as an afterthought or is left to the end so it can be dropped if time runs out, watch out! It’s a clear sign that the project has lost its priority.

Example: An organization’s stable scorecard was probably the first thing on the agenda of monthly leadership team meetings. Until one month, when it was listed for the end of the meeting. The following month it was not on the agenda at all. Then the scorecard was omitted altogether.

Remedy: Conduct separate meetings for your initiative. Address outstanding issues.

It can be challenging, even unlikely, to bring your initiative back from the brink. To keep your initiative from ever getting to that point, apply the fundamental elements of change from the beginning and for the continuation of the project.

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