How to Kill a Project Manager

Project Managers have a difficult job to fulfil. Mostly juggling with tight schedules, low budget, funny stakeholders who often do not know what they want, and on top of it high pressure from upper management to get projects delivered in record time, obviously with top notch quality.

Of course, project managers should know what they are getting into, so expectations should be clear. Considering that project managers should have ultimate accountability to deliver projects as per stakeholders expectations, i.e. on time, on budget and in scope (known as iron triangle), it is the project manager who has to justify and remediate any deviation from agreed plans, any delays, or any other sort of hick-up along the project lifecycle.

But when looking at project success rates measured by different organizations and bodies (such as Project Management Institute), we see very disappointing results with the average numbers usually somewhere between 50% and 60% — in some industries, success rates are even at 0% if you strictly measure by criteria from the iron triangle, e.g. delivery within budget constraints (have you ever seen an ‘Olympic Games’ project delivered on budget?).

“Project Management is becoming the equivalent of playing the lottery, with the project manager drawing the lucky numbers.”

It is not my intention to discredit the project management industry, at the end I am a project manager myself, probably fitting well into the common pattern of the 50–60% project success rates, i.e. among the numerous projects that I’ve managed so far there were successes but certainly also failures (although I still believe that I am doing better than bringing only 50–60% of my projects to success…but maybe I am biased).

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Marcus Glowasz
Marcus Glowasz
Marcus Glowasz is a project management specialist, coach, and advisor. He works with leaders and organizations to build data-literate and evidence-driven project teams and pave the way for data-informed and AI-supported project work. He is the author of the book "Leading Projects with Data", which provides invaluable insights on overcoming cultural and behavioral barriers to achieving success in data-driven and evidence-based project delivery.