Worst Practice in Project Management

Linh Tran, Tuesday 01 February 2022 | Reading time: 4 min.

The project management market is virtually addicted to best practice examples. But the well-known saying "You learn from your mistakes" suggests exactly the opposite of this approach.

Worst practice in 4 steps

What is worst and best practice anyway? Perhaps some of you are now wondering what worst and best practice actually is. Let's start with a brief definition of these two terms:

  • Best Practice is mainly used in benchmarking processes. In this context, best practice represents the best realized solution for an issue or a project. In order to identify the best practice, you should consider different solutions on the basis of several comparison criteria and the success achieved. Here you can also include cross-industry examples. Then try to follow the best practice and achieve a similar success.
  • Worst practice, in turn, represents the exact opposite of the best practice approach. Here, you first look at the worst executed solution and the associated mistakes. After you are aware of these mistakes, it will be much easier for you to avoid them afterwards.

Step 1: Feedback is worth its weight in gold

Solicit feedback from your critics to identify worst practices in the company or within a specific project. Your strongest critics are the best source to uncover weaknesses and areas where you are still far from being "good" or "best".

Step 2: Journey into the past

You can also uncover worst practices by looking at projects that have already been completed. Look at past projects and the problems that occurred during the course of the projects. You can learn a lot from this and avoid these mistakes in future endeavors.

Step 3: Look beyond the horizon

Do not only look at your own organization or projects, look at the industry as well. In addition, it is often worthwhile to take a cross-industry look. Learn from the mistakes of your competitors or even your partners. Identify their worst practices and avoid them in your own projects.

Step 4: Lessons learned

"You learn from mistakes", with this saying we entered the topic of best and worst practice approaches. This last step is thus also the most important. Consolidate your results from steps 1-3 to get a clear collection of the identified worst practices. You must now avoid these in the future.

Worst practice examples

Project team

Within the project team there are usually collaboration issues and difficulties aligning different work approaches. The following mistakes occur frequently:

  • Ignoring problems
  • Avoiding clear structures and processes
  • Disregarding risks
  • Everyone works for themselves, teamwork is unnecessary

Project management

With their leadership behavior and style, project managers have a significant influence on the success or failure of projects. You can use the following worst practices as a guide:

  • Forgoing planning
  • Getting involved everywhere as a project manager
  • Avoid delegation
  • Withholding information

Communication

  • Exhaust the CC feature of the mail program
  • Avoid communication between different departments
  • Refrain from jours fixes, meetings to exchange important information
  • Do not distribute any or too much information

 

(Original German text by Kathrin Jungwirth; English translation by Linh Tran)

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