|   +91-9945533822

Success and failure

Want to develop a bullet proof action plan?

Recently, I facilitated a session for the delivery team of a tech company

The company had just won a large deal and the delivery team was responsible for implementing the solution for the client

The objective of the session was to bring the various functional teams together to carve a way forward

I went into the session without any presentation

I had prepared a set of 5 questions to discuss with the team

The questions were designed in such a way to bring in both individual and team creativity, experience and accountability

One of the questions I asked the team was: 

"Give 10 reasons why this project will fail"

I asked them to think of every possible reason why they will not be able to deliver the project on time

I have used this question in many workshops and every time, it gets great results

You see....

It's a bit counter-intuitive question - instead of thinking how they can succeed, it forces the team members to think of reason why they might fail

And it's not a typical risk-related question (e.g What risks do you anticipate in this project?)

It allows you to step back and think about failure

But the real power of this question lies in the fact that it helps you prepare an action plan

In this case, once the team identified the reasons why the project might fail, I asked them to think of a plan to deal with each of the reasons

For example, one of the reasons highlighted by the team was: 

We might fail if we don't have local language experts in our team, since onsite work requires engagement with local client teams. While the client's management team can speak English, the requirements and solution design discussions with the on ground team will need knowledge of local language, without which there may be a lot of communication gaps between teams

This sounded like a perfectly valid reason why the project delivery may get impacted, right?

And the action plan they came up with was to raise the requirement to hire onsite local language experts (at least 1-2 experts in each functional team) and close the hiring process within a certain timeline. The delivery head agreed to get the necessary approvals from respective stakeholders for the hiring budget

So we ended up making a list of 10 reasons for potential failure and specific action items, with owners and timelines to deal with each of the line items

The workshop allowed the team to step back, reflect and discuss areas which might not get captured in a traditional program management plan

Getting back to the question itself:

10 reasons why you might fail....

The beauty of this question lies in the fact that you can use it for any situation - in personal or professional life, individually or with your teams  etc.

Essentially, you can use it in any situation where you have a goal to achieve

For example, if you have a fitness goal for yourself, you can ask yourself: 

10 reasons why I will not be able to achieve my fitness goal

Write down all the possible reasons and then, think of the action you will take to ensure that you deal with those items proactively

Ofcourse, there will be some reasons which are not completely in your control, but you could play a role to influence to some extent

Similarly, you can use this during a team session at the workplace if you are working on a project. Let your team brainstorm on 10 reasons for failure and then come up with an action plan

In essence, this questions helps you to think of all possible roadblocks well ahead in time and gives you the opportunity to plan for them in advance

One final point:

10 is not a sacrosanct number - you can think of 5 or 7 or any other number (I would recommend minimum 5)

I use 10 because in my experience, you can come up with 5-6 obvious reasons relatively easily, and then you are forced to think beyond

You have to really push yourself to think of those small things which are not so obvious, but could still end up being a big roadblock

So go back and try it out:

1) Pick up one personal goal and one professional goal you are currently working on

2) Then think of 10 possible reasons why you might fail

3) And then, think of specific action plan you will put in place to deal with those reasons

4) Then, as you take action, observe whether this helps improve your chances of success in that goal

Let me know if this helps you (or your team) in some way or not


Leave a comment