Psychopathic IT projects: a five-point checklist

The worst IT projects are ill-conceived, poorly executed, and ultimately doomed to fail. I call them psychopathic IT projects.

The worst IT projects are ill-conceived, poorly executed, and ultimately doomed to fail. I call them psychopathic IT projects.

Psychopathic individuals are cunning, pathological liars with no conscience, who nonetheless appear completely normal. Likewise, psychopathic IT projects hold the promise of great value, but cause only pain and suffering until they finally end.

Here's my five-point checklist to help identify psychopathic IT projects:

  1. The project promises great strategic value. These projects are promoted as potentially transforming important aspects of the organization undertaking them.
  2. The project delivers no short-term value. Truly psychopathic projects don't produce short-term value. They may appear temporarily beneficial until it becomes clear something is terribly wrong.
  3. The project is severely disruptive. Psychopathic projects eventually cause significant disruption to the organization. In extreme cases, a company may go out of business due to consequences inflicted by the project.
  4. Stopping the project requires external intervention. Drug interventions are well-known in cases of addiction. Likewise, halting a psychopathic project usually requires intervention by an external force, such as a regulatory or other auditing agency.
  5. There's no lasting benefit. When a psychopathic projects ends, the best one can say is, "Thank God it's finally over." Ordinary projects fail; psychopathic projects destroy.

Differentiating a psychopathic IT project from an "ordinary" project failure isn't always easy. If you suspect a project is truly psychopathic, disassociate yourself from the nightmare that's surely coming.

Have you experienced a psychopathic IT project? Leave a TalkBack comment and describe what happened!

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