Project failed? Here’s one of the main reasons why


That’s it in a nutshell.

The reason why most projects and initiatives fail.

I’ve just been reading a great Harvard Business Review article by Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo on the four kinds of people in an organisation. Likeability and competence being the two key factors. Casciaro and Lobo found that likeability is a really important deciding factor in the success of a project or initiative.

And this got me thinking.

The organisations I’ve worked with seem to put more value and emphasis on the competence element than they do on likeability (i.e. social skills). Therefore, is this a reason why there’s a high failure rate across projects?

There’s little point filling your project team with those who are competent (i.e. expert at a technical skill) but who get people’s backs up. That way failure lies and will most likely lead to more resistance against what you’re trying to do.

So if your organisation has tasked you with pulling together and leading a project team, think about the people who are connectors. Those who are liked, respected and listened to in the organisation.

The trap I see lots of managers fall in to is talking about ‘soft’ skills and ‘hard’ skills, with the former being seen as a weakness. It’s not a binary decision that needs to be made. It’s not one or the other.

When you get the right people together, who between them possess great technical and social skills, success is pretty much guaranteed.


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