Alignment Failures

The following entry is a part of the Pattern Library. The Pattern Library records the common patterns of events that have the potential to lead to project failure.

Pattern name : Alignment Failures 

In brief :
Different parties are focused on different goals resulting in conflicts and poorly alinged efforts

Description :
Although the need for a formal project goal is firmly established in the Project Management literature, in practice other forms of goals also influence a project’s outcome.  In addition to the formally stated project goal, personal and organizational goals also come into play.  Where perosnal or oganziational goals are seriously out of line with the project goal significant side effects can derail a projects progress.

Common examples of misaligned goals include;

  1. Sales groups who are interested in securing a signed contract over ensuring the scope, budget and schedule commitments are achievable
  2. Vendors who are interested in more billable hours rather than cost containment
  3. Competition between different vendors working on the same project
  4. Stakeholder groups who promote their own needs over those of others
  5. Failure to establish a clear goal creates a vacuum, which stakeholders and team members fill with their own assumptions or preferences.

Negative effects :

  1. Wasted efforts as different groups work in opposing directions
  2. A breakdown in collaboration
  3. Actions are taken that are not in the best interests of the project.

Common Root Causes :

  1. Failure to explore and articulate a formal project goal
  2. Lack of buy-in from stakeholder groups
  3. Poorly structured incentives (such as giving sales teams bonuses based on signed contracts rather than successful project completion)
  4. Breakdown of effective performance appraisals breaks the linkage between project goals and personal goals, thereby encouraging personal goals to play a more significant role
  5. Lack of leadership.

Suggested Actions :

  1. Ensure all stakeholders have a role in defining the project goal
  2. Clearly document the project goal
  3. Maintain a clear linkage between actions and the goal.  Frequently remind all parties of the goal and use the project goal as the basis for decision making where appropriate.

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