How Do You Achieve Success?

Failure is far easier to achieve than success.

Gartner concluded in a recent study that among all new enterprise initiatives, ninety-percent (90%) fail to have measurable success. They either expect inordinate returns, aim for unreachable goals, allocate far shorter time than necessary, fail to calculate costs beyond technology, or improperly staff the project (wrong skills or insufficient people).

It all points to the lack of a strategy.

Failure does not happen when your strategy correctly identifies the goals and metrics to measure, the expected results, and the methods to achieve those results.  “Black Box” processing (where something magic or mysterious happens to achieve the expected results) never works.  You may get lucky once, but luck is not a measure of success.

Success is planned – same as failure is planned.

I wrote in a post recently that the secret to success is to effectively deliver a solution at 80% of perfection, and work on the other 20% through iterations as time went by.  I was derided as calling for mediocre solutions to be released.  In reality, aiming for a solution that solves 80% of the problems initially and continues to improve over time makes for a far easier way to measure success.

Programs like Six-Sigma, Total Quality Management, and Just-in-time Management know that you cannot implement a 100% perfect solution at first try – that is why they become better with time.

Could you succeed with a solution that addresses 80% of the problem at first?

The 90% failure rate should not deter you from starting your initiative.  It should instead propel you to find out the best practices available, create a reasonable strategy, set realistic goals (around 80% of your first-intended goals), determine the metrics to reach that goal, and plan towards is.  In other words, create a strategy for your initiative before it becomes doomed for failure.

Plan for success and you will succeed, plan for failure and you will also succeed.

What are you best practices for success? Could you deliver an 80%-perfect solution? Have you? What do you think?

4 Replies to “How Do You Achieve Success?”

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  3. Esteban – agreed and as a segue, the 80% maxim is also used by Larry Ellison. In the book “Softwar,” Ellison is given rights to footnote as he saw fit (to correct or clarify the author’s story). In one passage, Ellison is represented as telling customers NOT to customize his software. The software, as it is, provides a solution for 80% of what any enterprise would like to accomplish. For the remaining 20%, either of the following are the best way to reach your goal:

    A – provide feedback to Oracle and they will add your requests to a future release;
    B – modify your business process to match the software

    Bottom line is, as brash as we think Larry can be, he’s right. And your statement regarding the 80% approach is right as well…congrats, you’re a bit like Larry!!



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