Embrace Failure with Lean

At DCG, we’re advocates of implementing Agile and Lean principles for IT departments who want to more effectively reach deadlines, increase productivity and deliver more overall value to an organization. But while Agile is an undoubtedly popular topic currently in software development, Lean should not be ignored.

In an InformationWeek article, Project Management Gets Lean, Jonathan Feldman asserts that more IT departments need to get behind Lean mainly for its concept of encouraging the idea of failing fast (with enough time to fix mistakes and before major investments are made).

Lean encourages the efficient use of resources and the idea of continuous improvement. Lean focuses on the project as a whole, measuring ongoing results but then challenging requirements when necessary as a build-measure-learn loop of activity. Throughout this process, the success or failure of a project becomes clear, allowing changes to be made to get the project back on track.

Feldman says that failures must be accepted. And, while many project managers try to push any failures under the rug, Lean challenges that, forcing us to evaluate our failures and correct them for continuous improvement – even if it means abandoning the project. As Feldman notes, “IT projects that need shooting must be shot without mercy or remorse.”

But, many project managers continue to focus on success, not failure. In InformationWeek’s survey of 508 business technology professionals, 70 percent claimed their customers are satisfied or extremely satisfied with project quality – however, only 48 percent are satisfied or extremely satisfied with timeliness, and only 46 percent are satisfied or extremely satisfied with project costs – those are failing grades.

Project managers need to admit that not all projects succeed – and that this doesn’t just affect IT, it affects the entire business that IT is serving.

With Lean principles in place, failure is confronted and there is enough time to get a project back on track.

Does your IT department discuss its failures? Does your PMO help or hinder your team’s progress and do you think Lean could make a difference?

Access the article here: Project Management Gets Lean

Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 11:32
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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