In football (soccer), the only true measure of success is goals – balls in the back of the net. It is not how well you play or how many chances you create or how much pressure you apply to the opposition – it is all about scoring goals.
In my last competitive soccer match, I was playing for my university college and in the full 90 minutes I think we got the ball in the opposition’s half of the pitch three times. We were totally outplayed. Yet, we won the match 3-2 because every time we did get the ball into their half of the pitch, we scored a goal! It was a travesty of justice, but the score and result remained the same.
Now we assume that if we play well, create multiple chances and apply pressure to the opposition we will score more goals; but it “ain’t necessarily so”. Many very well run, earnestly pursued and energetically delivered projects fail to deliver the business outcomes desired.
Similarly, if we assume that following a proven methodology, doing all of the required tasks, and delivering all of the expected deliverables will automatically enable us to deliver the desired business outcomes and benefits, we will be (and frequently are) sorely disappointed.
Methodologies, et al, are means to an end – but that end is not completion of the project on time and on budget, but the delivery, realization, and sustaining of the desired business outcomes, benefits, and value. These are the ‘goals’ wanted from the investment. They are the true measures of success.
While playing well and creating chances will usually result in goals and winning matches; many a team has played badly yet still won.
In measuring the success of projects we need to look beyond how well the project was run or how happy the project team was with the project experience, to measure how many business outcomes and benefits were fully delivered. How much value was realized?
If our projects are ‘playing well’ but not scoring goals, we’re on a loser.