Don't take this out of context ... but let's face it... we fail a lot and continue to fail in projects.

First of all, we need to address how we define the word "failure".

Try not to get caught up with people that don't understand projects or business and get very stressed and label things that don't go according to plan as a Terrible, Big, Bad, Failure.

For a PM/Business Manager, there will always be parts of the project that "do not go according to plan" (no one has the crystal ball). That is where our TRUE skills, tools and techniques come into play and we steer things back towards the original baseline or plan.

Over the past several weeks I taught to groups of experienced project managers.  A consistent theme is there.  We all fail at projects no matter how experienced, knowledgeable, passionate and focused we are.  AND, we try new tools, get more certifications, better tools, teams, etc, and yet we still seem to fail.

I also attend conferences and have met so many great people that continuously talk about the stress and anxiety of projects they have worked on that failed.

This needs to change.  The main reason is because they have levels of uncertainty/risk (this is real life and they will always be there!).

Lets go back to the basics, with a review of the definition of a project = "Temporary and Unique".

Based on that definition, the level of uniqueness is the tricky part since it can vary so much.  It can be simple and fast (hence not require a lot of detailed planning and risk analysis) or it can be extremely complex and difficult (hence require extensive documentation, planning and innovation).

I have seen a trend shift over the past decade as to why projects fail.  I used to place more technical reasons at the top of the list (poor scope, schedule, budget, quality), but now things have started to change.

In today's new age of project management, we are much more focused on: People, Process, Technology and Value, thus:

Top 5 reasons we still suck at projects include:
1 - Mis-aligned expectations (transparency, consistency, prioritization)
2 - Organizational Design (understand R&R, follow requisite structure)
3 - Communication (sender - message - receiver and all the influencers in between)
4 - Risk management (identify, analyze, respond)
5 - Lack of understanding that PM is a Profession ()

We are destined to have aspects of Failure everytime we manage a project, WHY..... because there are levels of uncertainty/risk based on the level of uniqueness.  Once we all get our heads around this we can all start to work through the risk events that occur with a "level-head" and enjoy our work more (less stress) and share more success!!!