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Why the monkey gets the bananas

Posted by Philip Smith on 9 February 2021
Why the monkey gets the bananas

People matter in Projects 

Several times every year I read articles describing why projects fail. The authors cover the spectrum from academics to project professionals, big name consulting firms and a host of other "experts".

At this point I have to show my ignorance by simply stating that most of the time I have no idea what they are prattling on about. Somehow it appears that impressive sounding words strung together by "experts", even when lacking in any objective meaning, gets accepted as some new holy grail.

Recently I read an interesting article stating that "Big science is broken" (http://tinyurl.com/jd6qvff  ) and it offers a reflection on my opinion of all the project experts and their reasons why so many projects fail. -To quote from this article  :

Why, then, is our scientific process so structured as to reward the old and the prestigious? Government funding bodies and peer review bodies are inevitably staffed by the most hallowed (read: out of touch) practitioners in the field. The tenure process ensures that in order to further their careers, the youngest scientists in a given department must kowtow to their elders' theories or run a significant professional risk. Peer review isn't any good at keeping flawed studies out of major papers, but it can be deadly efficient at silencing heretical views.

The first obstacle to successful projects is vested interest connected very firmly to senior management or government officials.

Governments are a good example of this merry-go-round where senior bureaucrats are attached to the hip of major consulting firms and all other opinions are excluded from day 1.

Projects fail despite smart methodologies, processes and control systems. No matter how many meetings are conducted or reports generated or studies undertaken, projects continue to fail.

The most important resource excluded from failed projects are the people who actually know what is going on, what works and what does not work. Just like junior scientists they are expected to shut up and do the work assigned.

Some years ago I bumped into a friend working for a large international organisation. I knew they were installing one of the well know software offerings and enquired as to how this process was unfolding.  His body language and brief response explained it all. He folded his arms and put his head to the side and said "Not too well Management thought they could do this without talking to us".

At that point is was clear that whatever discretionary effort staff might provide when they are committed to a project or process had, in this case, evaporated.

The above scenario is the norm not the exception. Making projects successful is not hard when we remember that people make projects succeed and fail, everything else is of lesser importance.  

The monkey gets the bananas because he knows what he wants, figures out the most effective way to get it and then works, with focus, towards his objective, project success.

A wise old man once said "Minimize friction and create harmony. You can get friction for nothing, but harmony costs courtesy and self-control".

Maybe we should all try to be the best monkey we can be, despite what the "experts" tell us.

To change our habits we have to change our behaviour.

To change our behaviour we have to change our thinking.

 

 

Philip SmithAuthor: Philip Smith
About: Philip specialises in getting projects and businesses that are not performing as well as expected, back on track.
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Tags: Innovation