According to the CHAOS Report, between 2011 and 2015 just 28.8% of software implementations were considered successful, with the highest failure rate linked to the most ambitious projects.
While it’s easy to state the facts of failure, it’s harder to diagnose the causes. For some, technological failure is simply a rallying call for more technology. For others, it leads into a retreat from necessary implementation projects. Often the missing piece in this analysis is human psychology.
Hardwired with cognitive biases and laced with tendencies for fast, intuitive decision-making, the human brain is not well configured for complex digital transformation projects where frustrations are rooted in the present and positive outcomes are deferred into a vague future.
While the causes of failed implementations may appear to be technological, they are a combination of technology and psychology, with the latter often playing the more prominent role. For example, a combination of misplaced optimism and being suckers for a good story, leaves a gap where software salespeople can sell the dream of multiple business benefits which is detached from the more mundane, laborious reality. This gap is what explains the famous Gartner Hype Cycle where new technologies are greeted with inflated expectations only to descend quickly into disillusionment before reaching, at best, an unremarkable plateau of productivity where, at best, a small part of the dream is made real.
This hiatus between the capacity of software to deliver commercial value and the human capacity to realise that potential is an urgent problem that needs a viable solution.
We guarantee it will change the way you think about how to sell and implement software.
by Dr Peter Hughes Jul 2, 2019
Co-founder of Cognition, psychologist and expert in digital transformation and decision science. Peter is a published writer and has facilitated digital transformation projects in the UK, Europe, South America, Russia, the Middle East and Asia.