Reasons your project fail

Reasons your project fail

Have you ever encountered this situation? You are in the middle of a task, working really hard and getting a sense of satisfaction from your work. And then someone walks in and tells you to stop working on it. Because we don’t need to do it anymore.

That’s a terrible feeling, it’s deflating. You feel like you’ve wasted your energy.

It’s a shame, but the truth is, companies stop projects all the time when they decide that the benefits don’t justify the cost.

The reason? Well, sometimes circumstances change, and stopping the project is really a logical business decision. But sometimes, people agree to do things, like, start a project, even when no one is really clear that it’s the right thing to do. And that leads to failure in a project. But guess what, this situation where everyone agrees to do something that none of them really support, even has a name.

The bizarre behavior

Introduced by Jerry B. Harvey in 1974, he call this behavior “Abilene Paradox”. This is when his family went on a trip to Abilene for dinner on a hot summer. Which comes with a total of 4 hours travelling time, 106 miles travelling distance, in a car without air-conditioner, across the dust storm and heat.

When the idea was first sounded out, everyone agreed to the plan. But after their dinner, each and every one of them said that they never wanted to travel to Abilene for dinner, and that they are agreeing to this plan because they “do not want to upset the rest of the group”.

The power that a social group has over an individual is stronger than we think. In the Abilene Paradox, people often go along with something they don’t necessarily agree, because they don’t want to be seem as the one “rocking the boat”. People end up doing something that they thought the group wanted over what they individually thought is the best, in the end, they all paid for it with a waste of time and effort.


So, how do you prevent an unnecessary “visit”?                

The key to protect your team from the Abilene Paradox would have to be engaging people.

At the very beginning of a project, create an atmosphere to foster candid communication. You have to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is going on, what you are trying to accomplish, problems you are trying to solve. And it is essential for team member to sound out their feedback and concerns at this very stage. Building a shared vision with the entire team at the beginning of the project will make it easier for everyone to stay on track throughout the project as the team move forward together.

As Yankees legend, Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” And it is always a great argument when it comes to planning. With that being said, people that do not have a clear direction when doing something will inevitably drift in the progress of doing it.

Applying the above onto business, smart teams encourage debate during planning, and pull together with all they have after decision. If you place emphasis on conformity and crushing opposing points of views during discussion, you may think you are speeding up the project, but you may end up paying a price.

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