Mindavation > Blog Post > Would you choose your Doctor the same way you’d choose your Project Manager?

Would you choose your Doctor the same way you’d choose your Project Manager?

Feb 2021

If you knew that 85-90% of all the work doctors did fail, how would you go about choosing your doctor?

What criteria would you apply? ……..

  • their qualifications,
  • letters after their name,
  • associations,
  • memberships,
  • reputation,
  • recommendations (hey I have this great doctor and he only fails 50% of the time which is well below average!).

So, if we wouldn’t accept these failure rates from our doctors, why are we still accepting them from those who manage our projects.  Not all of them of course, but the scary thing about these statistics is that they come from recent research on project failure rates.  That is, 85-90% projects are still failing to deliver on time, on budget and to the quality of performance expected.  Even if you disagree with the statistics, have different criteria you use for what constitutes a failure, or believe you can’t blame only the project lead, then what would be acceptable?  Think back to choosing your doctor; 50% failure, 25%, 10%……5%?

We think a lot about this at Mindavation, not which doctor to choose, but why project success rates are still low.  We think about this because we are passionate advocates of the art and science of project management. We believe that project management is at the heart of the way work is done in modern organizations and drives organizational success.

We know first-hand, and we are sure you do too, the positive impact great project management has on delivering maximum value to an organization.

So………, then the question is, what is getting in the way success?

Well, according to recent research published by the Standish Group and gantthead.com contributors the top three reasons for project failure are:

  1. unclear scope requirements or change of scope requirements,
  2. poor project management processes and
  3. lack of executive sponsorship or management buy-in.

This might suggest the solution is straightforward; to develop these capabilities in project professionals.  However, we would argue that we already do.  We have some of the world’s leading professional accreditations and qualifications for project professionals in the world.

So………, then the question still remains, what is getting in the way of success?

At Mindavation, we know we are not alone in wanting the answer to this question and in fact, this topic has generated a great deal of discussion recently.

The common thread among these reasons for failure suggests that the low success rate of projects might partly be attributed to a lack of non-technical competencies, otherwise referred to as soft skills. Skills, that up until as recently as a decade ago were not considered fundamental to a project managers success.

So, as well as training for hard skills such as:

  • Schedules
  • Work breakdown structures
  • Critical path diagrams
  • Variance analysis
  • Metrics
  • Earned value
  • Budgets
  • Dashboards
  • Risk management

It seems we should also be training for soft skills such as:

  • Managing stakeholder expectations
  • Leading
  • Decision making
  • Influencing Negotiations
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Problem-solving
  • Motivating team members

We realize we are not the only ones to come to this conclusion, of course, but, what we have been doing is using this information and working with our clients to help them achieve noticeable improvements in their project’s success rate.


By taking them and their project professionals through a customized development pathway which targets only the gaps.

For example:

Good project managers know who to create a WBS, so why re-train them in that? But, do they know how to communicate the information from the WBS to stakeholders in a way that ensures full engagement and commitment?

We have been working with our clients to help them answer these types of specific questions and help them design solutions that work for them. Ranging from Short Hits of Training (SHOT’s) for 2 hours, up to week-long programs including coaching and strategic problem-solving. For more information, feel free to reach us at info@mindavation.com and we’ll be happy to answer any questions!

Call for Action:

Meet the modern project manager: a triple threat who’s savvy in project management, business analysis, and change management. In this short course on LinkedIn Learning, you’ll understand how these three fields are coming together and reinventing project management to produce better business outcomes. Discover how they intertwine and help project managers deliver projects with clearer scope, tighter budget, and better results. For a short time only Triple-Threat Project Management is available for free access. You have free access from February 26 – March 2.




Frank Winters, (2003), Gantthead: The Top Ten Reasons Projects Fail (Part 7), Accessed: 21 January 2018. http://www.gantthead.com/article/1,1380,187449,00.html Gartner Group, (2000), Moderate Process

Rigor Is Faster (In the Long Run…), Conference Presentation. HCi Journal, (2001), Avoiding software development failure, Accessed: 18th January 2018

http://www.hci.com.au/hcisite2/journal/Avoiding%20software%20development%20fa ilure.htm IT Cortex, (2003), Failure Rate – Statistics over IT projects failure rate, Accessed:21st January 2018

http://www.it-cortex.com/Stat_Failure_Rate.htm KPMG, (2003), KPMG‟s International 2002-2003 Programme Management Survey, Accessed: 18th January 2018

http://www.kpmg.com.au/content/Services/Services/Audit_and_Risk_Advisory/Information_Risk_Management/docs/irmprm_pm-survey2003.pdf Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, (2003).

Government IT Projects the Standish Group, (1994), The CHAOS Report, Accessed: 21st January 2018

http://www.standishgroup.com/sample_research/chaos_1994_1.php Toney Sisk, (2004), The History of Project Management, Accessed: 18th January 2018

http://www.projmgr.org/PMHistory.pdf 2003 Report on Public Sector Agencies – Implementation of RMIT University’s Academic Management System, Accessed 18th January 2018.

Arcidiacono, Giuseppe, 2017, Comparative research about high failure rate of IT projects and opportunities to improve. PM World Journal. Vol. 6 Issue 2, p1-10. 10p.

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