The failure of any previous attempts to improve project performance should not constrain you from adopting a new approach.

We've tried it before but...

Most organizations have tried to improve project performance at least once.

Often the first step is to buy-in ‘better project managers’ or to introduce project management training.

When this has little effect, a standard project management methodology is acquired and more training is undertaken.

When this has little effect, a computerized tool set is bought with more training. Now you can have pretty pictures with our projects; but still the impact on project performance is marginal.

Indeed, over the past 30 years we have seen two concurrent trends

  1. the rise and adoption of standard methodologies and tool sets;
  2. and only a marginal improvement in project performance.

The AD Little and Standish Consulting studies into project ‘success’ of 1991 and 2011 respectfully are almost identical – with 60-70% of projects ‘challenged’ on one or more dimensions.


The reason for this is that we’ve been trying to improve project performance the wrong way and from the wrong perspective.

How you approach, deliver and measure projects is determined by what your organization thinks and believes about projects, how it measures project success. This organizational mindset is manifested in the organization’s project culture and behaviour.

Your mindset/belief system determines the nature of your project delivery processes which, in turn, determines the individual competencies required. Unless you change your organization's mindset by challenging the belief systems, you will not improve project performance. Projects will continue to come in over time, over budget and not to specification.

To improve project performance you need to start with some sound, proven, solid principles.

TOP provides six sound, proven, solid principles that underpin our totally optimized project delivery approach. When you understand the TOP six principles you’ll understand why just ‘better project managers’ will never deliver better project results.

Just because you’ve tried something before does not mean you won’t succeed with a new approach.

Topics: Process Management, Value Delivery, Standards/Frameworks/Methods, Program / Project delivery

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Apr 2011) as "Constraints On Project Performance Improvement"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections