5 Questions to Ask After a Project has Failed

January 6, 2010 - Mac Lake - Leadership

None of us like to fail but all of us do.  So if failure is inevitable then we must make the most of the opportunity and add to our leadership wisdom by asking the right questions.  Here are a few to start with…

  1. Was it a planning problem?  There are times we fail because our thinking was incomplete from the beginning and we didn’t have a well thought out plan
  2. Was it a system problem?  We use systems and processes in everything we do.  An ineffective system can complicate execution and keep us from accomplishing the results we desire. 
  3. Was it a communication problem?  If we’ve failed to communicate clearly and people don’t understand what’s expected of them then our execution will fail even if we have a great plan.
  4. Was it a focus problem?  Too often we have competing priorities and as a result key projects fail because we’re trying to do too many things at one time.
  5. Was it a personnel problem?  A major part of our role as leaders is to get people operating in their strengths.  Many times projects fail because we have the wrong people doing the wrong things.  

Then there is that final question we have to ask after every failure:  If I had the chance to do it all over what would I do differently?

What would you add to this list?

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Mac Lake


My passion is multiplying multipliers

4 responses to 5 Questions to Ask After a Project has Failed

  1. Great Questions Mac. Having a set ‘set of questions’ to talk through when a project has failed will help in keeping your team focused. Often when leading an event/project as a team people start to point fingers & assign blame. I like these questions because they are thorough, will help us discover where things went wrong and keep the leader and the team away from attacking a person and focused on the problem. Definately one i’ll file away. Thanks.

  2. Great insight Josh. If we don’t evaluate our failure in a healthy way we begin to blame rather than learn. Probably a good idea to use these questions at the beginning, middle and end of projects as well to prevent the blame game and cut off failure before it happens.

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