Here’s a statistic published in this month’s PM Network mag from PMI.

78% of employees across industries say they’re working on a doomed project right now. But only about 10% of them feel like they can speak up about impending project failures.
Crucial Conversations Online Survey – 2/2007 [589 responses]

What do you think? Is this reality or perception? Or is perception reality?

My opinion is that this is a product of the corporate culture and the project manager’s skills. We know generally from the Standish Group reports that we as PMs are not dealing with this level of project failure. What we may be dealing with is a project or corporate culture that is a bit “sick.” When describing a culture as “sick” my intention is that there is the opportunity for it to get “well.” Sick cultures can be detected by comparing it to the following list of symptoms:

  • Inter\Intra-departmental in-fighting
  • High employee turnover rate
  • Executive management is not aware or choses to ignore the symptoms (or worse, is contributing to them.)
  • Employees are allowed to “complain” unconstructively (issues without solutions.)
  • Conversely, there is not a sense of “safety” in voicing concerns. Too much water cooler gossip.
  • Not enough champions for a “healthy” culture
  • Little or no communication
  • Lack of project, departmental, corporate vision (“Where are we going with this?”)
  • Lack of corporate identity. Employees don’t feel proud of who they work for and what they do.

I’m sure there are more. Feel free to share some of your experiences in the comments section.

In summary, my point is that the more “healthy” the culture is the more positive the outlook will be and the more freedom project members will feel in expressing concerns and solutions. We as PMs are key contributors to this process. We are the ones that will dispense the medicine to help heal “sick” projects and corporate cultures.