Joanne Flinn

April 05, 2013

On a recent trip to England, I had brunch with Alex Budzier, a researcher at Oxford University, whose work with professor Bent Flyvbjerg has shown that IT-based strategies have unusual patterns of failure and success. Alex was a senior associate at McKinsey before joining academia.

Alex shared statistics over scrambled eggs. “We found a strange pattern with IT projects. They have distinctly different patterns of failure – it’s a fat tail, not a normal distribution. More of the really big projects fail, more often. They often cost 2-4 times what is expected. And what’s more, nearly 50% of IT projects are ...    


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February 01, 2013

Professor Peter Robertson is founder of Human Insight, designer of the AEM Cube and author of “Always Change a Winning Team.” His work is said to be the new Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) of leadership and strategic success, and is used by Phillips to evaluate its innovation teams.

H was recently in Singapore, and we chatted about strategies over steaming bowls of noodles. Peter began with an analogy that I thought was very apt.

“Successful strategies are like a bouquet," he said, “A successful strategy has a particular mix – much like a good bouquet has more than one type of flower. ...    


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December 21, 2012

Projects are investments, yet are they assessed as such? A single project is either performing or not. It adds value to the portfolio or not. The failure to assess the costs of failure represents a major opportunity for business improvement.

Alex Boozier of [the UK’s] Oxford University, whose research was published Harvard Business Review last year, showed that one in six IT projects cost two to four times what is expected, and that nearly half of such projects are underfunded.

[T]hese facts show a downward spiral. One project underperforms, taking funds and energy from the next project. Performance declines.

A single failing project ...    


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December 12, 2012

During a chat with Walter McFarland of Windmills Consulting, previously a senior partner at Booz Allen and Hamilton, we discussed the human side of strategy, capacity building and projects creating real change (or value).

Walt, who is chairman of the American Society of Training and Development, told me: “The brain impacts successful change more than we thought. Human behavior in the workplace does not work as we thought. When you talk to David Rock from the Neuroleadership Institute, brain sciences affect far more than we thought.”

It’s clear that the mind and the brain affect results, which is rarely considered when strategy, ...    


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October 31, 2012

I’m sure you’ve heard that old line, “Don’t assume. It makes an a** of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” It’s crude, but a surprisingly relevant lesson for those of us who work on strategy and big projects.

I was speaking with Walter McFarland about the role of strategy, organizational capacity, and projects creating business value during a visit to Washington D.C. Walter is chairman-elect of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) and formerly a senior partner at Booz Allen Hamilton.

As Walter carefully drove us down Interstate 66, I made the same point – albeit in a more elegant manner. “Strategy and ...    


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