In The Checklist Manifesto, Dr. Atul Gawande found that the difference between life and death for operating room patients was the surgeon’s use of special tools: checklists. In January, 2009, Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles successfully landed a loaded airliner in the Hudson River, saving the lives of 155 people, and the tool that helped them: checklists. If checklists are valuable for highly-intelligent, highly-educated professionals like surgeons and pilots to increase the likelihood of successful outcomes, then it behoove Project Managers to adopt checklists for the same purpose.
An Internet search on the words “project success” garnered 47 million results, whereas a search on “project failure” only generated 17 million results. Readers are 2.5 more likely to look for those success factors than they are for failures. My project success checklist presentation, course, and blog have received great reviews from audiences because of the simple message that most Project Managers know what leads to project success but they lose focus along the way because there are some many things that can pull attention away from the few key things that drive success. What tool helps surgeons and pilots from losing focus on the factors that contribute to success: checklists.
Why Projects Succeed highlights the value of creating one’s own project success checklist based on those factors that contribute to successful project outcomes. In my book I illustrate how I created and continue to use and refine my Project Success Checklist with real-world, and humorous, project examples, and then I instruct the reader on how to create their own checklist and how to use the checklist with sponsors and stakeholders to build trust, develop stronger relationships, and deliver successful projects. I have developed this body of work over the last eight years, first as a training course for my company, then delivered to Fortune 500 clients and industry groups, and most recently as a blog for my company, Slalom Consulting.
In both course and presentation, I ask the Project Managers in the audience how many of them have been on a project that did not suffer a significant setback that threatened success, and I have yet to see a hand or heard a voice raised. Since all projects will have some unforeseen issue knock the project off the rails, and since studies show that 70% of projects fail to achieve their original objectives, Project Managers are constantly searching for new ways to deliver success. Based on my own experience and rooted in the principles of The Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande and Your Brain At Work by Dr. David Rock, Why Projects Succeed combines best practices, neuroscience, and real-world project experience to create a valuable learning experience for the reader in a pragmatic approach to increasing the likelihood of success on their projects.