The Success Formula- Part 8

In part 8 of The Success Formula, we will look at Commitment.

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” President John F. Kennedy in a special address to a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961.

As I mentioned before IBM’s three Basic Beliefs were Respect for the Individual, The best Customer Service, and Pursuit of Excellence. These three beliefs were also a commitment to both its employees and its customers. These were really strong commitments not only on a corporate level, but also very much so on an individual level, and the customer’s needs really did come first.

The commitment to quality and to excellence gave IBM its unique strength. Even though cost was never an issue, cost issues were never ignored, but the focus was rather on price/performance. This meant that every option was considered in ensuring that the optimal solution was achieved. This was also the essence of the famous THINK campaign created by Thomas J Watson. The result was a unique degree of flexibility, coupled with intellectual application, which could then be overpowering to the outside world.

”Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” The Wolf, Pulp Fiction

The two most important key success factors in running IT projects are user involvement and sponsor support. Both these two factors are also commitments on the part of the users and on the part of the sponsor. Projects that lack these two commitments are more likely to fail than projects that have these commitments.

In January 2009 a new CEO took the helm at Procurator. His experience of successful IT projects was not very good to say the least. What he didn’t understand though, was the critical impair and success factors involved, and the very important role that he himself played in the make it or break it of projects.

Without the right sponsor support, any significant project is almost certainly doomed to fail. It’s the sponsor that sets the agenda and if the CEO is not backing up corporate wide projects in a clear and active way, the organization will take notice of this and will behave accordingly.

The new CEO at Procurator had never, according to himself, experienced any successful IT project. However, before he arrived at Procurator there had been more than 20 successful corporate wide projects during the previous three years. And sure enough, the first major project during his watch failed and he was personally very much responsible for the failure, as he made all the mistakes in the book and then some. In fact, it was totally impossible to succeed under the circumstances that he created. It’s funny how often self-fulfilling prophecies becomes just that: self-fulfilling.

For me personally it was a double defeat. It was the first time in more than thirty years that a project that I was leading failed. The cost to me personally was even higher, as I due to the environmental factors ended up in the ER with a stress related heart arrhythmia, which later forced me to retire from my job due to health reasons.

Commitment is the for-better-or-for-worst part. We need the whole heart to be with us. We need to be committed. We can believe in anything we want, but if we don’t put our heart and mind to it, the chance of success is very dim.