Multifamily Florida - Spring 2013 - (Page 24)
by Joseph Grenny
Project managers today are two to three times more likely to
become scapegoats than successes.
This point was dramatically emphasized by our recent study
of projects and project managers. The study, called Silence Fails:
Five Crucial Conversations for Flawless Execution, involved more
than 1000 project professionals from some 40 multinational
organizations and included analysis of 2200 projects from small
IT projects to billion dollar capital investments.
The case of Bob Kelley, a seasoned project leader, illustrates
the importance of the central findings of the study.
Kelley led an effort to in-source the billing system of a major
business services company. The billing system was the lifeblood
of the company — responsible for drawing hundreds of millions
of dollars into the company on a monthly basis by issuing timely
and accurate bills to over twenty million customers. For 20 years
the billing system had been handled by a vendor. For three
years Kelley led a sometimes unruly and loose confederation of
over 1,000+ professionals drawn from various functions in his
company to change over to a company-owned system. Since he
was a project manager and not their line manager, getting things
done was often challenging.
The stakes couldn’t have been higher. And the project’s
status could not have been worse. By the time we met Kelley the
project was already 100 percent overdue and 300 percent over
the original budget — an investment of well over $250 million
to that point with no end in sight. Kelley believed, however, that
there was light at the end of the tunnel. The first cutover date
24 l MultifamilyFLORIDA l SPRING 2013
for a small contingent of customers was two weeks away. As he
walked out of a “release review,” he believed that all was in order
and the chance of success was high.
A month later, Kelley was handed his head. The release
was a disaster. The vendor managing the legacy system failed
to transfer data when required. Once they did, the new bills
were pocked with errors and the system suffered from multiple
“Severity 1” glitches — causing it to crash uncontrollably
during the billing cycle. When he was dismissed, Kelley was
escorted to his desk by a security guard who then walked him
out of the building.
While we could spend an entire article discussing the
disgraceful way a 15-year company veteran was dispatched, the
more important story was how shockingly predictable Kelley’s
demise was. And more importantly, how terribly common it is.
If Kelley had access to the data we’ve recently compiled, he
would have realized the light at the end of his tunnel was in
fact a very slow moving train headed directly his way. The slowmotion train wreck had been in progress for two years and was
These days, fewer than 30 percent of projects come in on
time, on budget and on spec. Seventy percent either fail outright
or are significant disappointments.1 While a tremendous amount
has been done to improve project management competence in
the past 20 years, there is surprisingly little progress to show
“CHAOS Chronicles,” Standish Group, 2004 and Kaplan and Norton in
“The Strategy Focused Organization”
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Multifamily Florida - Spring 2013
Legislative Update: And So It Begins
Renovations and Maintenance: Managing the Many Moving Parts
Hey Mold ... Dry Up!
Five Crucial Conversations for Flawless Execution
Open for Business!
Plan Ahead ... Weather, or Not
To Tow ... or Not to Tow?
Index to Advertisers/Adv.com
Multifamily Florida - Spring 2013