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I first met project/change failure statistics in around 1982. I had been working on projects for a couple of years, and many failed. Of course, no one admitted that they failed. But they did.

Here we are 36 years later in 2018 and the bad news has not changed. That is very sad.

Sad for the Enterprises involved of course, but also sad for the disillusioned and depressed people working on those projects. I know because I have worked on many failed projects over the last 36 years. The only thing more depressing than knowing the project you are working on is going to fail, is having no ability to do anything to stop it, and in many cases the ignominy of being vilified for pointing it out. “Think positive!” and “Just Do it!” are in copious supply but, “Oh bugger, thanks for pointing that out. We’d better take stock…” is nowhere to be found.

No one wakes up in the morning wanting to fail. No one wakes up in the morning wanting to do a bad job. So how can the Transformation capabilities of Enterprises be so bad for such a long time?

The long answer is many reasons.

The short answer is, because there is no one Accountable on the Board for the Transformation capability that all those people are part of and are forced to operate in. Of course, everyone bangs on about Transformation, but the talk is always about doing Transformation. The Transformation of Operations. There is no one thinking about the Transformation engine they are using to deliver that change, which ran out of oil long ago, has severely worn big ends, is only firing on 3 of 8 cylinders, and needs constantly refilling with water.

Until Enterprises realise that the effectiveness and efficiency and life of their Operations capability depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of their Transformation capability, the statistics are not likely to improve.


¨      The average lifespan of a company has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today. [source: Yale University].

¨      70% of projects fail. [source: 4 PM]

¨      60% of projects at IBM do not meet key goals (schedule, budget, and quality). [source: IBM]

¨      17% of IT projects go so badly, they threaten the existence of the company. [source: McKinsey]

¨      74% of all projects do not succeed. [source: PMI]

¨      67% of all projects did not complete on time and on budget. [source: Standish Group]

¨      75% of business and IT executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.” [source: Geneca]

¨      Only 2.5% of companies successfully complete 100% of their projects. [source: Gallup]

¨      High-performing organizations successfully complete 89% of their projects, while low performers complete only 36%. [source: PMI.org]

¨      Average cost overrun is 27%, but 17% had a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 69%. [source: HBR]

¨      The failure rate of projects with budgets over $1M is 50% higher than the failure rate of projects with budgets below $350,000. [source: Gartner]

¨      50% of all Project Management Offices [PMOs] close within just three years. [source: KeyedIN]

¨      80% of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy. [source: Changepoint]

¨      Only 42% of organizations report having high alignment of projects to organizational strategy. [source: PMI]


What are the success/failure rates for your Enterprises Change initiatives?

Do they even get measured

What will you do to bang the boardroom table for resources to mature your Enterprises Transformation capability?


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