Projects – be they work or personal life projects often fail to deliver on their original objectives because they operate as a collusion of mediocrity.
In order to avoid discomfort DURING the project, any attempt to challenge of the non-delivery against the original dream, vision, goals or objectives is diluted or minimised. It becomes acceptable to delay and not to deliver on objectives.
Only when crisis point is reached are issues honestly raised, often where accountability reaches people who stand to be humiliated, personally or professionally, or in some way undermined by the continued non-achievement.
Non-achievement is also seen as a `’norm`’, and raising the issue of lateness or non-delivery is seen as a “betrayal”, a form if `’slimy whistle-blowing`’, often called “grassing up” in the UK.
Often the raising of non-achievement as an issue by friends or colleagues is also collectively seen within a collusion of mediocrity as “misery-making” or being unnecessarily negative.
This is because projects are time-based and the “future is always in doubt”, so “why raise the issue now and make everyone uncomfortable?”
At the design phase of a personal or work project, a number of collusive behaviours can undermine successful project completion:
– setting the goals and performance criteria too low. You set the bar too low, too safely, at a level that neither inspires nor challenges.
– being too ambitious and idealistic with project goals and performance measures (This is the opposite of setting the bar too low – an idealist isn’t challenge on the practicality of their project and is, therefore, doomed to fail from the start).
– selecting a project management framework that is inherently collusive; in order words, your plan doesn’t allow for feedback, for input from others, or is designed to get people to nods their heads all the time, or to fear to challenge you
– failing to challenge the appropriateness of the resource model (not enough skill, time, money or others resources)
– failing to design in “consequences of non-delivery”; in fact, there are no consequences to falling short, for being late, or for not delivering at all
The collusion of mediocrity creates a false comfort zone that screens out honesty, critique and challenging suggestions or input. The result is often a personal or work project that falls into mediocre or even worse delivery.