A good number of people have written about “recovering” projects. It’s true that organizations often persist with projects past the point of recoverability because of the fallacy of “sunk costs”.
Although I think it is more about sunk egos. Ego caused the sponsors to force this project through regardless of the business case, rough estimates, or known risks. Then people who think their careers are sunk if they don’t find a way out of this mess before anyone finds out about it. They seldom do.
It’s been my observations that only a few projects start failing for some inexplicable reason. Some are indeed subject to unexpected cataclysms. Those are easy to back away from. An executive can easily to explain to the board or the media that the big sale had to be cancelled because a war or a volcano erupted. That’s not the usual situation. In my observation, a majority of projects (including the “ego” projects) are in trouble before they start.
This short article starts getting at the root causes and some actions you might consider. Although it speaks of “IT stressors”, none of them actually have anything to do with IT: it’s all in the management.
For additional details on how all this gets started and how to cut it off before it all becomes a problem, see “Simmer Down”, which you can obtain in e-book form at no cost.
In return for providing it to the PM community for free, reviews would be appreciated.