There is a surprising amount of research on this topic- business owners and experts-alike have a fascination with studying their failures, and rightfully so!
It’s only failure if you do not learn from the mistakes, and develop practices to prevent them in the future…
First of all, goals. If you do not expertly provide your team with a carefully crafted, laser-focused goal, you are doomed for failure. Lack of communication can lead to a plethora of problems, including lack of coordination amongst groups, which is vital.
You also want to remember to always provide the “why”. With a goal AND an understanding of how the goal will affect the business, the team will fail to see applicability and therefore fail to feel any form of responsibility.
It is vital to establish not only leadership of the project, but also ownership. Who, specifically, has final say over the work? Who has the power to send things back to the drawing board or push something into production?
Whether it be one person, one department or one committee, it must be established before you begin.
Big dreams, small budget- sound familiar? With small business, this is often the cause of a project to fail. Being realistic, recognizing your restraints and working around them is the only way to prevent this type of failure.
Carefully consider your team on every project. Each project should be evaluated individually and moving people can prevent burn out and can foster new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Before any work begins, realistic deadlines must be established. Goal markers, check in points, end dates- these all must be set in advance. It also must be decided who has the power to extend or push up a deadline and what the conditions for said changes would need to be.
Related to deadlines is regular project monitoring. Finding a small problem mid-project means you can isolate and/or repair it. Waiting until the last minute will cause the waterfall effect to wave it way across the work completed by everyone else and can be catastrophic.
It seems daunting and failure is inevitable. Learning from failure is the best way to turn a negative into a positive. However, it only works if you document the lessons and consistently apply these tools to future projects.
As 2016 proves to be the ‘back to basics’ year, take another look at your elevator pitch. Every good business owner should be able to sum things up in 30 seconds or less. Likely you have yours down pat, and likely it is outdate or stale. Take a fresh perspective, considering any changes in audience your business may have experienced and new trends in the industry.