With the publication of Dynamic Conditions for Project Success research taking place last month, we want to share some of the key findings, what the most important condition is, and what’s next for future research.
Usually, most people we’ve spoken to about the project have asked us to identify which single factor was most important and unfortunately, we have to disappoint them by saying that of course they’re all important. Equally, we say that they’re all important, but the project community may decide that some are more important than others.
What we can at least say is that the respondents to the survey identified interpersonal skills as the most important dynamic condition. This is most likely because people are the foundation of all projects; without interpersonal skills, it is extremely difficult to form the core project team at project inception. This is likely to be true across all project contexts and industrial sectors. We would also add that while this may be the case, there are strong synergies between the factors that particularly revolve around interpersonal skills and relationships such as team ethos, knowledge management, and even contracts. After all, what is a contract if not a way of formalising and clarifying relationships and obligations? So there are strong relationships between the dynamic conditions which we hope to examine in the future.
In our project meetings, we often liked to boil down everything we found until we were left with just a single core concept that defined what we felt we had really found. Most of our factors revolve around classic ideas that projects are about people and processes. But with dynamic conditions such as sustainability we felt like we had identified something new - principles. Projects aren’t just about having the right people and the right project and organisational processes (although those are very important), they’re also about having the right values. And as we try to achieve ‘Net Zero’ or to ‘Build Back Better’ to use two commonly used phrases, it may be worthwhile for project professionals to really imprint their own personal values and hopes for the future into their projects.
Some of the most interesting things we found don’t even appear in the report but provide the foundation for future work. For example, some of our interviewees spoke about how technology and data was being leveraged to promote environmental sustainability with the use of extensive computer modelling for materials. If they used one type of material for surfacing and used computers to model traffic flows based on different assumptions for future increases, they could determine how long it would be until they would need to resurface. We’re really interested to examine these issues particularly as governments, firms, and civil society organisations are all looking inward and at how we can all contribute to realising a Net Zero society.
So, what is the most important condition for project success? We can’t just single one thing out as the success factor – there are several conditions that work together. Our relationships with people, the world we’re in and how we manage these together lead a project to success.