IT Projects failures and Risk Management (posted by Fabien Villard)

Masters of Disaster

Here is a very enlightening paper from Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center:

IT projects fall in the same behavior:

  • Quote: “a psychological bias toward short-term maximization instead of long-term planning—a psychological bias all humans share”.
  • IT Project: short ROIs, code before design and architecture, intuition instead of analytical thinking, patches and corrective layers instead of fresh rebuilds, we have some bad habits that illustrate the bias.
  • Quote: “The Quake players derive a sense of security from observing the flimsiness of one another’s houses. If everyone around you has a house of straw, having a straw house yourself seems somehow safer.”
  • IT Projects: this reminds me of the unavoidable first question of a manager when presented with new ideas : “what are our competitors doing on that subject?”

So now we know, IT projects are often failing because we are not wired for long-term planning. This is a good thing to know, but what can we do to avoid this? For the Wharton’s researchers, our wires need to be fixed but in the meantime they try to find a “systematic answer” to issues they deal with (big catastrophes), they are searching how to get people (and managers) to avoid randomness in responses to problems by giving them strategies and plans to react to known events.

We can do the same for IT projects: a methodology is the key point. Not a “best practices” document that vaguely describe what should be the result, because describing the result does not avoid randomness and laziness. But systematical methods that guarantee the right result will be achieved.

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