Failing and Gambling: Benefits of Prince2®

If you’re thinking of words with heavily negative connotations, you couldn’t do much better than to choose “fail” and “gamble.” Both words intimate a sense of loss or incorrect performance. But you would be naïve to assume that any project is infallible, and even more so to believe that there is no opportunity for growth from the inevitable shortcomings. It all seems very counter-intuitive. When following Prince2’s methodology for project management, you’d be somewhat within your rights to imagine an ideal project outcome – that’s what “best practice” should supposedly offer, surely? However, in reality there will never be an all-encompassing, ironclad process for producing absolute perfection; any and all business environments are just too volatile.

 So, after that borderline clickbait article title and fairly downbeat introduction, we can pick things up by looking to Prince2’s superlative frameworks. It's here we find guidance on mitigating (and even benefiting from) both failing and gambling. There are unbound opportunities to be gained from failing and gambling with Prince2-oriented project management.  


Failing better

As stated by an Axelos PPM benchmark study, almost half of all project managers who rarely or never engage in project reviews experienced a project failure within a 12 month period. Upon hearing this fact it becomes hard to deny the intrinsic link between failure and improvement.

Continuous improvements can be hard to accept when, as a project manager or team leader, you’re so emotionally invested in a project. It requires a great deal of composure to look at a suboptimal project and put right the problems that could run right to its core. This is when a truly great project manager knows to invite failure inside for a cup of tea when it knocks at their door. They’ll maybe even offer it a metaphorical biscuit. In return, failing can be utilised; rewarding research with team feedback. Opinions and other formal or objective avenues to perpetual improvements lead to the forming of a best practice structure.  Maximum project value is just a stone’s throw away once this information is properly used.

Henry Ford said it best: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Admittedly, as a man born in the 1800’s, he likely didn’t have to navigate modern minefields such as change management when founding one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. Lack of change management skills does happen to be one of the main reasons for project failures, though. Such an example raises questions about the link between this attribute and the potential future development of projects. For example, could the next project be planned with a better sense of what the end user wants to achieve? Or do the team’s skills need augmentation in any particular fashion? It’s this identification and review of project obstacles that seems simple to grasp as a concept but is troublesome to realise for those resistant to it.

A different way of thinking is often required to fully embrace the constructive forum that stems from a project failure. A new mindset can see the most stubborn leaders analyse their flaws, a mindset that enables objective thinking about early mistakes.


Beating the house with each Gamble

Betting currency based on the probability of an outcome is gambling distilled and in its traditional form. The idea of gambling in business that we keep referring to is of course the identification and management of risks. Regarding risk management, there is no risk management approach as comprehensive. Let’s break this down.

If you’re stood waiting for a train, what are the potential risks? Sure, there’s a miniscule chance that you might fall onto the tracks, but what are the odds? The risk identified is so unlikely that it verges on ridiculous, but it could potentially have a disastrous effect on your personal health. That disastrous effect in this case being your new state as a train-induced pancake. This is the first lesson in risk management communicated by Prince2. By creating a thorough project plan that outlines the scope of the project, risks can be identified before the project has even launched – and contingencies preparing for the worst outcomes can already be in place. No matter how small the chances are, if it’s an obstacle or danger to the project’s completion, you must be aware of it, and the degree of threat that it poses. Moving forward can be done with more peace of mind when you know your project gamble is a relatively safe investment.

In too many cases companies approach risk with a fire-fighting mentality. Being purely reactive can leave teams feeling anarchic and in disarray. Sadly, in some cases your team can identify risks that are almost completely unavoidable. Prince2 outlines four primary categories of risk responses when faced with such circumstances:

  • You can adjust the project; adapt it to alter the causality of the risk event.
  • Reducing effects through a conscious, focused work effort would be beneficial.
  • Restricted by contract obligations, there could also be the opportunity to transfer the risk to an outside party.
  • Finally, and this one is a shame, there is acceptance. If there is nothing to be done to avoid a risk event, or perhaps if the impact is very low, then you can be prepared to receive the resulting consequences.

But don't think this is the extent of what can be achieved in the field of risk management. Through cohesion, logic and strategy, Prince2 knowledge will minimise the risks facing your project, and help you reach long-term business goals without being buffeted off course.


That’s our brief guide to failing better and gambling responsibly when managing a project with the aid of Prince2’s sage guidance. In learning from mistakes your end value will grow to be mammoth. If you want to find out more about how you can leverage project management training, and what other business growth Prince2 can facilitate, contact Quanta training today!


F&G pic

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