10 ways to implode your digital project …


Digital transformation is not a choice but a necessity across all industries, however, most projects fail or implode (some quite spectacular). Here are my top 10 ways to implode your project, insights from having rescued and salvaged over 50 digital projects across enterprise and govt., and listening to grievances from thousands of people stuck within these projects, and/or churn from company to company in disbelief or leaving a trail of destruction behind … 👀

  1. Have developers work out ‘your business requirements’, because it sounds like an “I.T. thing”, or, you probably either don’t have time or are a little light on knowing how to create requirements or product descriptions (so don’t blame tech for not meeting those fuzzy expectations)
  2. There are no clear definition of what is an “Acceptance Criteria” to know when things are actually ‘Done’ i.e., 3 people will all have 3 different views on what the deliverables are and what ‘done’ really means … confusion and conflict guaranteed
  3. Keep shopping around for answers you want to hear… in denial, and not listening to experienced subject matter experts that give you the hard truth, you shop around until one of the ‘experts’ decides it’s easier to just concede to give you what you want to hear … or worse… finding someone that found an opportunistic opening to match the lack of reality 🛒
  4. When a project is not delivering, but you continue on regardless in complete denial and hope that things will sort themselves out along the way .. just like a bad marriage you throw in good money after bad (see sunk cost fallacy).
  5. When doing nothing is often adopted as the “safe option”, which can cause huge amounts of time and opportunity to just slip away. At some point the house of cards will topple … and someone is left holding the bag and marking a scapegoat becomes the primary goal 🐐
  6. Too much money to burn… often the demise of digital transformation lies in the size and scale of the project, the bigger and grandiose the vision, the harder (and costly) they fall. Often great use cases are found in public-private-partnerships (PPP) with complex multi-party agendas playing out in a game of thrones 👑
  7. Insufficient budget & unrealistic targets — I’m all for shoestring budget, as long as it’s realistic… Make sure you have a realistic budget in place and allocate resources appropriately. Consider linking remuneration to outcomes (just saying)… 🧮
  8. Trying to find a problem for a solution…. An exec gets the bright idea they need to do ‘something’ with blockchain, AI, <insert trend of the day> etc., and have their teams find something to create a project around. (The opposite of creating job satisfaction … and how to loose good resources by wasting their time and effort ) 👻
  9. Lack of communication or intentional mis-communication… Effective communication is crucial for the success of any project. Make sure to establish clear channels of communication and keep all team members informed of progress and any issues that may arise. Project collaboration tools are key to delivering transparency and alignment to the goal. Keeping teams siloed creates a foundation for subversion ☎️
  10. Living in the past … Not keeping up with industry trends: Stay up-to-date on industry trends and ensure that your digital project is taking advantage of the latest technology and approaches to assure best possible success. Legacy systems are just that … quite legacy and sweating the asset could guarantee the race to the bottom in a global by default competitive era 🏺📜

Definition of Done vs. Acceptance Criteria: Acceptance Criteria are things that the product does when the item is completed. They are not things that the development team does to the product.

For more strategic ways to implode any organisation, the CIA handbook “Simple Sabotage Field Manual, by United States. Office of Strategic Services” gives insight into their best sabotage techniques to subvert any enterprise or govt.👀 🙈

Here are some highlights we are all quite familiar with, without even trying 🙈🙉🙊

  • Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  • Multiply paper work in plausible ways.
  • Start duplicate files.
  • Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.



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