More than 90% of projects fail on the people dimension, not the technology or process dimensions. What does that failure look like? It has many faces: one person dominates the team; we failed to understand the end user/client’s objectives; lack of trust; misalignment of objectives; mismatch of priorities; no one is a ‘big’ thinker; the team moves too slowly; the team moves too fast and fails to think through key issues, we failed to build consensus, poor communications, we didn’t understand that an executive had an emotional problem with the project etc.

Though they readily acknowledge that expensive project failures occur on the people dimension, and that Networkers are the most gifted at seeing and addressing the issue before it becomes fatal, frequently the PD community is resistant to hiring the detail-weak, imprecise Networkers. If a Networker does sneak onto the team, they will be given PD work and then be beaten up because they don’t do PD work as well as a PD.

And yet, properly engaged, the Networker ensures that: 1) the team works efficiently together, 2) stakeholders perceive and acknowledge the value of the team’s work, and 3) the team is protected from unproductive interference while simultaneously identifying, acquiring, and integrating resources that make the team more successful. The PDs have trouble spending a hiring ticket on a Networker; but they know they need them. Engaged early, Networkers can significantly reduce the risk of mission failure. The Networker has the PD’s back.

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