In today's business environment strategy typically is executed through cross-functional projects, such as major product releases, strategic IT initiatives and substantial organization restructurings. In a new study of more than 1,000 executives and project managers (14 percent from the financial services industry) from 40 companies, VitalSmarts (Provo, Utah) and The Concours Group (Kingwood, Texas) identified five crucial barriers that must be addressed for project success:
1. Fact-Free Planning. A project is set up to fail with deadlines or resource limits that are set with no consideration for reality. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents experienced this problem on nearly 40 percent of their projects. Among study participants, nine out of 10 agreed that this was the most difficult of the five barriers to overcome.
2. AWOL Sponsors. A sponsor doesn't provide leadership, political clout, time or energy to see a project through to completion. Sixty-five percent of survey participants experienced this on one-third of their projects. Fewer than 12 percent of those respondents indicated that they could skillfully address this issue.
3. Skirting. People work around the priority-setting process. Just more than 50 percent of project leaders attempt to speak up on this issue, and only 16 percent of those solve the problem.
4. Project Chicken. Team leaders and members don't admit when there are problems with a project, waiting for someone else to speak up first. While 55 percent of study participants experienced this problem, fewer than 14 percent of those skillfully addressed it.
5. Team Failures. Team members perpetuate dysfunction when they are unwilling or unable to support a project, a problem encountered by 80 percent of project leaders, most of whom do not feel capable of addressing the issue. As a result, team failures go unaddressed nearly half the time. <<<