7 ways to fail big (in IT?)

Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui wrote an interesting article in the September edition of the Harvard Business Review on lessons from the most inexcusable business failures of the past 25 years.  The magnificent 7 identified were:

  1. Roll-ups of almost any kind - taking large numbers of smaller business ( or IT systems?) and rolling them up into a larger systems for economies of scale/efficiency/easier management/whatever.
  2. Bets on the wrong technology - I dont need to put this into the IT context for you, do I?
  3. Rushing to consolidate - In IT, this is the same as #1.
  4. Pseudo-Adjacencies - in business, this is about selling the same product to new customers/markets or new products to your existing customers but the "pseudo-" part refers to the fact that the fast path to failure is not knowing enough about the new thing you are stepping into.  The IT examples are legion but I will limit myself to those porr souls like me who assumed that because their new laptop was sold with Vista on it, it would work.
  5. Stubbornly Staying the Course - Oh yes - these are Ed Yourdan's death march projects - check out his book or try http://www.yourdonreport.com/index.php/2007/11/27/death-march-presentation-download/
  6. The Synergy Mirage - two IT companies partner together because it seems that their products and services are complementary.  A lot of heat and light is generate but no benefit to either of them or any potential customers because their cultures are too different.  For example, software license sales people do not necessarily make good consulting sales people and vice versa.
  7. Faulty Financial Engineering - Here is the delivery date and here is the budget.  What do you need estimates for?

A copy of the Carroll/Mui article is available for purchase at this location.

Written by Michael D. Harris at 20:02
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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