Some projects carry such great risks that they should not start! But they do. They start because there is a chance of a high Return on Investment (ROI) to the organisation. We have all heard of the “Risk vs Reward”!
After all projects, in the classic definition, are new endeavours, they are not Business as Usual (BAU) activities, inherently the risks are greater with something that has not been done before. BAU have the capability of defining and refining repeatable processes, these techniques help keep risk low. Projects can exploit methods and processes too, but what are being delivered is new, untested outcomes with all the risk and opportunities associated.
Why on earth would a Project Manager take on such a burden, knowing that risk of failure was so high. Some Project Managers don’t realise this a at the outset, either through ignorance or disinformation. Others get told to “just do it” or face the consequences. Others are happy to embrace the unknown, deliver the undeliverable, hopefully gain some kudos in the process.
Project failure is a risk, it will never disappear when dealing with new endeavours. Success rates will increase as Project Managers and organisations learn to adapt and improve processes, but only to a limited extent.
Inherently projects are not BAU, they venture into and attempt to conquer new territory.
As explorers through ought history have experienced, for those few that succeed there are countless that don’t.