Failure is in the eye of the beholder

Success for one person can still be seen as failure in the eyes of another. Show me a successful project and I will show you at least one stakeholder who thinks the project failed to meet their expectation.

Over the course of a project, stakeholders change their mind about what is important to them, re-evaluate their priorities, and reset their expectations.

Even when you start the project with all stakeholders on the same page and all agree on the project goals and success criteria, there is no guarantee that by the end of the project they will all still hold the same view.

That’s the reality of projects.

As a project manager, you will live a life of misery if you expect everyone to have the same definition of success and failure, no matter how hard you try.

You have to invent your own definition of what constitutes success to you personally. I am not worried about your organization, project stakeholders, or project team. This is about your own definition of your success.

Whatever your definition of success is, it should never be tied to the outcome of your projects. Instead, it should always be about your continued development and growth.

Are you continuously moving forward? Do you keep raising your game? Are you taking your performance to the next level with every project? That’s what really matters at the end of the day.

Yes, you should learn from failure. That’s how we grow.

Just remember that, sometimes, there is really nothing to learn from failure except how to avoid getting thrown under the bus.

In my next post, I will explore why “there is really no such thing as failure, only feedback and why it takes a village to fail a project

Speaking of success, I highly recommend you check out Scott Ambler’s 2010 IT Project Success Rates survey results. You will find out that we are not as bad as we are made out to be after all.

As always, if you have any comments, questions, concerns, or rants, – or you just want to say hi – please feel free to leave a comment below.

To your project success!

7 Responses to Failure is in the eye of the beholder
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bernardo Tirado, Samad Aidane PMP. Samad Aidane PMP said: Why “failure” is in the eye of the beholder: http://bit.ly/dmPXzk #pmot #pmp #pmi #pm #projectmanagement #ftpm [...]

  2. Project Management
    August 8, 2010 | 7:38 am

    Thats really part of the deal being a project manager, you tried your best, givng your best shot just to fulfill the task assigned to you, then after a good presentation, they will just say your doing good but,,,,,blah blah is better..you should have done this and that..thats the worst thing about being a project manager, they don’t appreciate your work as it is, though not all but most of them do…

    • samad_aidane
      August 8, 2010 | 11:30 am

      Yes. So true. We have to derive our motivation from within and not depend on appreciation of others. This is because to finish some projects successfully, we often have to disappoint a group of stakeholders. As project managers, we have to develop the capacity to cope with the reaction we will get when we disappoint people. This is tough because we are wired to seek the approval of others and be liked.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. [...] In my last post, I wrote that failure is in the eye of the beholder. [...]

  4. It takes a village to fail a project
    August 11, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    [...] my previous 2 posts, I wrote that failure is in the eye of the beholder and that there is no failure, only [...]

  5. [...] Failure is in the eye of the beholder [...]

  6. [...] Failure is in the eye of the beholder [...]

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