It's the Context, Stupid
Throughout our consultancy work and education, one key theme has emerged: Projects fail because of the context, not the content.
As we mentioned earlier, the traditional emphasis in project management on the technical issues of the project (content) has led to a legacy of an extremely poor set of tools, techniques, and tips for managing the complex of people, political, and other "softer" issues that make up the context of the project.
On our Web site is an article called "Project Pathology: Causes and Symptoms of Project Failure." It details our conclusions and learning from consulting on over 20 major projects that had failed. All the failures were in managing the context rather than the content.
The P Files Pilot Episode: The Consultants from Hell
We attended a briefing session being given by our client for a project development assignment to a number of well-known consulting organizations. As we left, we overhead a partner from one of the global consulting groups whisper to his colleagues, "This contract is a license to print money. They don't have a clue what they want!"
The P Files Team Comment
Welcome to the real world. The statement by the consulting organization partner is evidence of all the poor behaviors discussed in Component 1. eXtreme project management recognizes that, if the client is struggling to articulate requirements, it is not an opportunity to manipulate the client or rip him or her off. It is the professional responsibility of the eXtreme project manager to assist his or her client in understanding its requirements before the project commences.