Technical projects fail for non-technical reasons

This morning Aycan Gulez shared on Twitter this quote from Peopleware:

For the majority of the bankrupt projects we studied, there was not a single technological issue to explain the failure.

Gerald Weinberg said something similar in his Second Law of Consulting:

No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.

2 thoughts on “Technical projects fail for non-technical reasons

  1. It’s important to realize when “you” are the “people problem”.

    It took a sit-down with a mentor during an early contracting gig for me to understand that when it seems like everyone else is insane or crazy or failing to communicate, it’s probably me.

    For me as a contractor, it’s an “up or out” situation: Either I get a handle on it myself and with the team, or I find a replacement for myself who can. The goal is always the customer’s goal, and I don’t get to hinder that goal. Sometimes my greatest service is helping find someone who can move them along faster than I can.

    That’s another reason why networking with other contractors/consultants is important: If you succeed in helping the client reach their goal, even if it is by replacing yourself, it can still make for a usable reference and/or future business.

  2. Of course this is true. It’s largely because most people, including technical people, are economically ignorant. If you only have $10 to spend and you come up with a technical project that costs $15, it doesn’t matter if your project is technically sound.

    If you build something no one wants, or spend more to develop it than it’s actually worth, you wasted your time and resources and actually made the world a worse place, since you could have been doing something productive, but chose to do something wasteful.

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