What if 100% of Projects succeeded?


I unpacked an old moving-box I found in the garage the other week and found a heap of newspaper clips from about two decades of working in Project Management Industry. They showed an historical exposé of reports, white papers, articles etc describing the Project Management delivery as a failed delivery method that had to shape up, grow up and deliver!

Across the board from all these management consultancy analysis and gartners/foresters etc. I concluded that we pretty much have failed for twenty years in our industry with delivering on our Projects promises to deliver on time, on budget and with required scope. It doesn’t seem that we ever have succeeded in average with more than 50-60% of our projects.

This got me thinking. Let’s question this argument from a few angles:

Let’s say we succeed with a 100% of our projects. We always deliver on time, on budget and on required scope. Now – is this realistic? Doesn´t this sound like a machinery rather than an endeavor? Doesn’t this sounds like we are only doing things we already know, but call them projects? Are we not taking any risks, doing nothing new, only staying with what is already known…..I think this would be a disaster for our world. This represents stagnation, that we have stopped being curious and daring!

Let’s say that we are successful with 0% of our projects. None is delivering on time, on scope and on budget. This would represent projects being disrupted by will to not succeed. I guess this is not a realistic case: Statistically, some projects in any organization would succeed even if someone would try to break them, since ”breaking” might lead to unexpectedly good results.

Delivering 50% of our projects statistically represents tossing a coin for a win. It represents a risk appetite of 50%, we are willing to invest if we win half the time, loose half the time. This is the family game situation. ”It evens out”. We play for fun: you win, I win, we party.

So – delivering 60% constantly on time, on budget and on scope? What does that give us? From a game point of perspective, this is not a game for Vegas. We will ”win” 6 times out of ten and lose 4 times out of ten. These are not so bad odds. For ten 1-dollar games played, we will statistically over time earn two dollars on average…..that is a 20% return on investment on the 10 dollar bet….

Maybe not so bad after all?


Magnus Holmlid