Uncovering the “Strategic Programs are all on track, everything is going to plan” delusion 

Everyone knows that strategic programs are the lifeblood of telecoms businesses, the delivery vehicle for major business milestones like network infrastructure rollout, digital transformation, integrating complex systems, customer acquisition and retention, etc. 

This means they are inevitably tracked closely by shareholders and other stakeholders, and progress is reviewed closely at every board meeting.

What could possibly go wrong?

And why does the bad board meeting always seem to take everyone by surprise?

This short story may have a familiar ring to it …

“We’ve all had them…the big bad board meeting where painful questions are asked about late, over-budget strategic programs.”

The undertones are intense – “How could you have let this happen?”

Looking back, it was so obvious we’d hit the buffers.  

  • If only I hadn’t ignored the signs.
  • If only I hadn’t ignored my own gut feelings.
  • If only I’d probed below the surface when the team updated me on progress (or lack of it as it turned out.).
  • If only I’d taken decisive action sooner.

But now the carnage is there for all to see. 

We’re hopelessly behind schedule, costs have spiralled out of control, and we haven’t got the experience and capability to get the program back on track.

Worse, our shareholders think we’ve dropped the ball.” 

If this dog-eared script sounds familiar, I’m not surprised because this is how many strategic programs in telecoms run. 

We know because we’ve rescued over 100 transformation programs we’ve rescued over the years.

And Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner’s research in their excellent book “How Big Things Get Done” backs up our anecdotal experience…

only 8.5% of programs come in on time – and meet their budget, with less than 1% coming anywhere close to delivering their planned benefits.  

Explore why your business transformations fail.


Because strategic programs are complex, challenging, and prone to several reshapings, replans and remediation…

but they’re not doomed to failure.

We have identified 6 balls you simply cannot afford to drop on a business-critical program in our latest insight guide.

Now, this guide is not going to ensure that a failing program miraculously gets back on track. 

Let’s be realistic

What it will do is get you thinking about how you run your strategic programs in a different way.

Program management is in our DNA, it’s our core expertise, and we live and breathe strategic program execution every day.

So we’re sharing our program management thinking with you so that you can ask different questions at your next board meeting and spot a program that is in trouble earlier.

I’m sure you’ll find it relevant, interesting, and illuminating, and you can download the guide here.

And feel free to message me on LinkedIn if you want to have a conversation about assessing whether your strategic programs are really all on track. 

About the author

David Hilliard is Founder of Mentor Europe, execution specialists in strategic program execution.