Friday, March 11, 2011

What Happens When A Project Fails?

We might not want to acknowledge it, but failure happens. Goals sometimes don't get met, time-lines slip, projects fall apart. How do you react when faced with failure? And as a leader, how do you prevent small failures from snowballing into a completely failed project.

This blog post on the Harvard Business Review caught my eye as a unique illustration of the different ways people deal with failure.

In the post author and Bregman Partners, Inc. CEO Peter Bregman writes:
Most of us miss that. Typically, when people fail, we blame them. Or teach them. Or try to make them feel better. All of which, paradoxically, makes them feel worse. It also prompts defensiveness as an act of self-preservation. (If I'm not okay after a failure, I'd better figure out how to frame this thing so it's not my failure.)

Who hasn't been there? Or on the receiving end? It's a natural instinct to try and distance oneself from failure in a business situation, but a good leader needs to take a step back, evaluate, and decide what their team needs in each case. Is this the time for cutting losses? Learning a lesson? Or simply practicing acceptance.

What skills and practices do you employ when dealing with the failure of a project? What failures have you faced, and how have you put things back on track?

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