I have been reading Baseline magazine for three years now and to this day I still look forward to their monthly case studies. These case studies tend to focus in depth on a single problem in a single well recognized business. This level of attention to a real-world problem and all the issues, particularly management and IT, which lead-up to, surround, and work around the problem provide an invaluable dose of insight. It is not often that companies are willing to expose their follies so transparently in a public forum; but when they do the learning opportunities abound.

So, with this ringing endorsement from the I-promise-I-am-not-on-Baseline's-payroll-department, I encourage you to take a look at their "Top 10 Project Pitfalls You Can Avoid" article, then spend some time browsing their case studies archives:

http://www.baselinemag.com/article2/0,1540,2011304,00.asp?kc=COQFTEMNL090506EOAD

Can you identify any meta trends? Companies from McDonald's to NASA have exposed their 8 and 9 digit mistakes. I am interested to hear what nuggets of wisdom you extract from these lessons, and from "mistakes" closer to home. What can we as an industry learn? I'll start off with my initial insight:

A common thread which appears is unrealistic ambition. That is, many projects appear to push massive implementation and global adoption schedules, damn the torpedoes. I prefer the Agile philosophy of iterative progression. We as an industry can benefit from looking for ways to scale our rollouts and learn and adapt at each stage. In theory we are trading rapid implementation for increased probability of success. This has worked for me in smaller projects. Is this practical in projects of global scope?

Please share your thoughts!

Adam Cole, B.Math, I.S.P., PMP