“The numbers are big, but the effectiveness of the infrastructure spending has been very, very poor,” says Dennis Dykes, chief economist at Nedbank Group, South Africa’s fourth-largest lender. “Thus far, we have got no return at all from a number of capital projects. We have got a major problem” with power. South Africa’s economy would be 10 percent larger had it not been for power constraints, says Dawie Roodt, chief economist at Pretoria-based advisory service Efficient Group. South Africa Can’t Keep The Lights on, Bloomberg Businessweek May 18. 2015.
I often have to remind people that the idea, what we want to do, is more important than the money. All too often we measure help and support in terms of how many dollars we spend. We are also often guilty of defining a problem by highlighting how much money is being spent relative to someone else’s spending. If the money doesn’t accomplish anything then money spent is a pretty poor predictor of success or failure.
A great indicator of a bad idea (or not well thought out, planned, etc.) is of course a project where we spend lots of money but don’t see much return from it. The best risk mitigator I’ve found for this is to first take that great idea and give it a limited try. Better yet, find someone who has already been doing something similar and understand and scale a similar effort. This approach always seems slower to many, doesn’t grab the attention the big money efforts do, and usually succeeds or fails quickly and quietly.
For good examples see Why We Need Islands of Excellence and compare with Why Your Project Does Not Need More People, More Time or More Money
What are you doing to ensure your project is about successful ideas and execution and not just about how much money you can get in hopes that enough money will ensure success?