In project management and change management, reference is frequently made to the famous “only 30%” of projects achieve their objectives. This devastating statistic repeated year after year is well known. What is less known, are the most important factors that contribute to successful projects. The Standish Group, which assesses the performance of thousands of projects every two years since the late 1990s, has identified 10 of these success factors.
Do you know which one is at the top of the list? Which factor will have the most impact in the end to determine whether a project has ultimately achieved its targeted benefits? Can you guess?
It is user involvement! In itself, this is nothing new. It is known. But to what extent is it put into practice? My field experience, research and literature unfortunately confirm that this involvement, however important, is too often forgotten, expedited, poorly organized or limited to a few.
The reasons for this lack of involvement are numerous and often fall as ruthless sentences: no time, no money, no need, we know what they need, we know what they will tell us, they will delay our timetable, they will make unreasonable demands, and so on.
We know the rest. The proposed solutions did not take into account operational needs. People feel solutions are forced upon them and are not inclined to adopt them. First result: solutions are implemented but not integrated into practice. Second result: expected outcomes are not materialized. And another project joins the myriad of “70% projects” that fail to achieve their objectives.
Practical lessons from the field: allow time and activities in your planning to involve the recipients of change in the development, validation, and implementation of solutions; develop strategies to involve people so they will feel their knowledge of operations are taken into account; actively engage leaders in the process – they are the ones who are the best positioned to involve employees in the implementation of change initiatives.
The changes are then THEIR changes too. And your chances to belong to the select group of “the 30%” just dramatically improved. As the author Margaret Wheatley says: “People only support what they create.”