How to Get Projects Back on Track Fast

Getting projects back on track

People are the main reason projects fail. Getting projects back on track is first about people, then about circumstances.

5 people-reasons projects fail:

  1. Confusion regarding purpose. Why is this project important?
  2. Lack of clarity concerning current state and future direction. Where are we now? Where are we going?
  3. Conflicting priorities, personal agendas, and sideways energy. How can we pull together?
  4. Unwillingness to adapt when conditions change. Where are we banging our heads against the wall?
  5. Skill gaps and inept teams. Who needs training and development?

Items one through four follow each other like dominoes. Confusion regarding purpose leads to lack of clarity regarding direction, and so on. Ineptitude, number five, applies to failure at every stage.

Success is about people.
But, when projects fail we blame circumstances.

5 Questions to get back on track:

You say it’s all about people, but, when projects get off track, you ask, “What’s going wrong?” That’s important. But, “Who,” in the end, is more important than, “What.”

  1. Who is in over their head?
  2. Who is pulling sideways?
  3. Who is unwilling to adapt?
  4. Who is the bottleneck?
  5. How can we help each other?

When projects stall, ask, “What do we need to change about us?” The goal isn’t blame. It’s clarity, alignment, development, ownership, teamwork, and real progress.

Lack of urgency:

The common denominator in all successful projects is urgency. Lack of clarity, conflicting priorities, and unwillingness to adapt all drain urgency.

Three questions to urgency:

  1. What have you completed? Smoke-blowers talk about what they plan to do, when they should talk about what they completed.
  2. What can you do next? Specifically.
  3. When can you have the next step done?

Urgency tip: Set the next meeting on the day that next steps are slated to be completed.

Momentum is the result of a series of completions not beginnings. Energy grows when you get stuff done.

Why do projects fail?

How can leaders get failing projects back on track?