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Beautiful Teams by Jennifer Greene, Andrew Stellman

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Chapter 10. Putting the "I" in Failure

Jennifer Greene

THE SUMMARY LINE ON MY RESUME SAYS THIS: "JENNY GREENE IS AN EXPERIENCED PROJECT AND development manager with a track record of successful projects and teams." And it's true, I've managed a bunch of teams that have been able to create the software they were paid to build on time, within budget, and with quality. I'd bet that a lot of people out there could make the same claim. But when I look back over the work I've done over the past 15 years or so, I know that a number of those successful projects didn't lead to market dominance for the companies I worked for. In some cases, they didn't even solve the problem they were meant to solve. And pretty much everything I've read tells me that I'm not alone. A lot of projects do much worse than the ones I've worked on. Some published estimates put the failure rate as high as 80% of all software projects.

A few years ago, Andrew and I started traveling around to networking events and conferences giving a talk called "Why Projects Fail." The point of the presentation is to help people make the connection between practices that they might dismiss as heavy or difficult (like code reviews and estimation) and avoiding common pitfalls. We expected it to be a bit irreverent and lively because we tried to use some of the stuff we'd learned in writing Head First books to keep the mood light. And we got what we expected—but more than that, we struck a chord with people who seemed to be dying ...

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