The 5 R’s of Recovering from Project Failure

The 5 R’s of Recovering from Project Failure
The 5 R’s of Recovering from Project Failure

When somebody performs some task or do something, there are chances to either fail or to succeed. But everyone has their own definition of failure and according to that opinion they set standards that could define failure. When a student is a topper in his school or college days, they would more likely to consider failure of not being in the list of top 3 ranks in the next year. Failure means a situation which would make you feel depressed and vulnerable for a longer period.

In general, the only way to overcome with your failure situation is to look forward and keep working. Anyone involved in professional level work will experience failures at some point. When it happens each person has two real choices:

  • Fall into a spiral of defeat and never recover
  • Reflect on the failure, identify the patterns or lessons that led to it, keep your vision pointed forward, and move onwards. This process is known as resilience.

Here are five elements to consider before you experience failure:

  • Risk assessment: Risk is inherent in every project and cannot be completely eliminated. Engineers and project managers can simply identify what might go wrong and can put it in place with an additional level of confidence. Knowing what could happen, and that student considered how to deal with it, gives them a subconscious boost that helps them to operate with strength.
  • Relationships. Every professional will experience a setback in a project. Through strong relationships you will have the social support necessary to build the confidence to analyze what happened and move forward. Each of us is human and as such, each of us will fail. Strong, meaningful relationships are those in which we are allowed to be human without excuses.
  • Realism. Most people tend to perceive what they wanted to perceive and make overconfident predictions about a future, uncertain outcome. The best counter to these biases and gaining a sense of realism is to have a team – or at least one other person – you can rely on to shoot holes in your plan or thoughts.
  • Root-Cause Analysis. It helps in figuring out what went wrong. In fact, the most effective root-cause analysis tool a student can implement comes from six-sigma and is known as the “5 Whys”. As the name implies, you repeatedly ask the question “why” and in so doing, peel away the layers of symptoms that can lead to the root cause.
  • Recovery. Give yourself time to recover from the failure. Engineers are a proud, professional tribe that can suffer significantly from setbacks or failures. It’s important to allow yourself some space to accept that the situation occurred so you can move forward in a constructive manner. Negative self-talk or self-inflicted abuse won’t make the situation any better and will only make it worse.

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