Let's start this conversation with an exercise I use with my clients. First, raise your hand if you've ever been at a company where they were implementing a new project (e.g., a new computer system, new business processes, organizational redesign). Now, put your hand down if you've ever seen one of the projects fail.
I've never seen more than one or two hands stay up.
I finish by asking the group to share some of the reasons these projects have failed. I consistently hear the same reasons over and over again, regardless of the size of the company, the industry, or the type of project.
- Management didn't support the project. If my boss wasn't going to make the change, why should I?
- We didn't receive adequate training. I didn't know how to use the new system/processes, so I continued doing things the old way.
- I didn't even know there was a project! No one told us about the upcoming changes until right before the new system/processes were implemented.
- I didn't understand why we were making the change. Taking the time to learn the new way of doing things didn't seem as important as focusing on my day-to-day job.
- Past projects have either failed or been abandoned. This project will probably be the same. Why should I waste my time learning about something we won't be using in a month?
Each one of the reasons for failure listed above can be addressed with a strong Change Management program. Whether it's a plan to increase Executive Sponsorship, a reminder that employees can't learn a new system through osmosis, or the generation of clear communications, Change Management brings the people-side of a project to the forefront.
Have you seen a project fail? What was the main reason the project didn't succeed?