Businesses need to be comfortable that not all projects are going to succeed. Out of a portfolio of projects, people need to be comfortable that these projects will not achieve what they originally set out to do. Don’t expect that, even with agile methods and values guiding your teams, these projects will achieve what they set out to do.
Some projects aren’t set up for success. Poor organisational governance, leading to unrealistic expectations established from the outset often set up a project for a real death march. Or perhaps projects spun out of the whims of one set of people only to not understand what organisational capabilities they really have. Sometimes it comes down running a project with the wrong mix of skills and without a support structure in place that creates a time bomb waiting to explode.
Don’t forget that agile and lean methodologies cannot guarantee success. At the heart of it, agile will surface problems and make them visible. Organisations need to be prepared to confront the truth (many are not ready for this level of transparency) and support changes that will make it better.
For projects destined to fail, your best result is often to Fail Fast, take those lessons and then do something differently. Avoid the situation where a project sucks up resources that could be more effectively allocated. And don’t forget, just because a project didn’t achieve what it set out to do, it’s only a true failure if you don’t learn anything from it.