Throughout complex, long-duration mega-programs, changes occur, many between the “white spaces”. That is events, activities and risks that are not specifically identified and addressed. Some of these might include changes in leadership, changes in technology, changes in staffing, changes in politics, reinterpretation of contracts, and others. The following is a list of common causes for program, or project, failures and problems.

  1. Inadequate leadership
  2. Inadequate planning
  3. Inadequate relationships, trust, engagement and alignment
  4. Inadequate or dysfunctional organization, including lack of needed skill sets
  5. Inadequately prepared client, stakeholders, partners and/or program manager
  6. Inadequate culture of accountability, responsibility and authority (for decision-making)
  7. Inadequate communications
  8. Inadequate feedback loops, reports and reporting
  9. Inadequate quality control/ assurance plans, execution and/or not inculcated throughout the organization
  10. Inadequate team, defined roles, responsibilities and buy-in
  11. Critical path not identified and followed
  12. Performance metrics not adequately used
  13. Scope does not reflect realities of the program and/or scope creep
  14. Schedule does not reflect realities of the program
  15. Budget does not reflect realities of program
  16. Issues not aggressively resolved
  17. Inadequate continuous improvement, change management, lessons-learned and good practices
  18. Inadequate and/or continuous training, including safety culture
  19. Failure to identify, assess and manage risks
  20. Failure to allow for changes in technology
  21. Inadequate program closeout

This list is not intended to be comprehensive, so please add to it based on your own experience.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”

– Henry Ford