Project Pitfalls: From Symptom to Solution

By Linda Hoopes  |  Posted 07-01-2004

It's no secret that major technology initiatives frequently fail to reach their intended goals. Often, the problem isn't the technology; it's the people. Whether being asked to sponsor the project, create the system, install it or use it, all too often people don't understand the project's goals and don't take it seriously. In the end, they execute it poorly, or fail to use the new system once it's installed.

In this article, Daryl Conner and Linda Hoopes, chairman and senior vice president, respectively, of Conner Partners (an Atlanta-based consulting firm that helps organizations execute their strategies and critical initiatives), offer a guide to identifying and resolving eight major issues that keep projects from realizing their intended benefits: apathetic leaders, confusion among the key players, too much focus on installing technology, weak support from sponsors, an unprepared project team, mental and emotional overload, a poorly aligned culture and resistance. Designed for use by CIOs and other managers involved in leading initiatives requiring organizational and technological change, this whiteboard shows how these problems can appear during the planning, installation and realization phases of such projects.

Be sure to check out this month's detailed research survey of 507 companies' responses to managing, organizing and reporting on projects.

Each problem is illustrated by a typical symptom, and a set of solutions is suggested that will help make the fulfillment of the project's goals possible. (CIOs may also choose to lower the project's ambitions, or even abandon it altogether.) By identifying what can happen when companies focus too much on technical matters and not enough on the people who are at the heart of every initiative, this whiteboard can help project sponsors and leaders who wish to avoid that trap.

To view whiteboard, click here.

To download a printable version, click here.

Daryl Conner, chairman of Conner Partners, is an expert in the field of change management, and the author of two books: Managing at the Speed of Change (Villard Books, 1993) and Leading at the Edge of Chaos: How to Create the Nimble Organization (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1998). Linda Hoopes serves as senior vice president and knowledge architect for Conner Partners. She is the co-author of Managing Change with Personal Resilience (Mark Kelly Books, 2004) and president of the Atlanta Society for Applied Psychology.