When it comes to the use of generally accepted good project management practices, why do so few companies achieve even a reasonable level of maturity?
It can’t be through a lack of awareness as significant effort has been spent by associations such as PMI in evangelizing the benefits of the discipline. Dire statistics on the frequency and costs of project failure on organizations and national economies have been highly publicized so the truth is out there.
So what encourages this mediocrity?
In those markets where companies operate with razor thin margins or where there is fierce competition from both traditional and non-traditional firms, effective project management can be the difference between continued viability and filing Chapter 11. Similarly, for organizations which make the bulk of their revenue from project work, project management is no longer competitive advantage – it’s table stakes.
But in those verticals that are product or process driven, and where there’s enough revenue to go around, the costs of change outweigh the perceived incremental benefits of effective project management.
In addition to lacking a sense of true urgency, another contributing factor is the “we are different” (occasionally stated as “we are special”) hallucination.
While this is often evident in small organizations which have grown organically, it’s equally present in very large organizations that become isolated from what’s going on outside their walls (and don’t want to let the outside in). While industry benchmarks and inside intel from other companies in their industry might suggest the need for change, a culture of lotus eaters can be very difficult to disrupt.
They might hire talent from the outside in the hopes of bringing in fresh views, but if those newcomers aren’t encouraged to voice their opinions and challenge the status quo, evolution is futile. If the company’s press releases and sermons from Olympus claim that “all is well”, why would there be a need to change anything?
People usually learn more from mistakes or failure than they do through foresight.
For every child who has listened to his mother, there’ll be a few more who just have to see if their tongues really do stick to frozen poles.
Why should companies be any different?