Method in the Mayhem: Managing Megaprojects (Part 2)

PMI United Kingdom Chapter

Ian Whittingham, PMP is a Program Manager in the Business Transformation group of a leading global news and information company. The views expressed here are his own. You may contact the author directly at ian.whittingham@thomsonreuters.com.

Rapture, delight, pleasure, excitement. When was the last time you experienced any one of those emotions? More to the point, when was the last time you experienced any one of them when you were working on a project? These are not the sentiments we usually associate with projects. Frustration, exasperation, disappointment, disaffection...these are the feelings more commonly encountered on projects, even on the best of them.

Yet those first four emotions are the ones on which the most difficult, complex and transformational projects we undertake are based. It is in their capacity to incite within us the necessary energies and commitment to take on such challenging endeavors that they have been called the four sublimes of megaprojects.

In Part 1, we looked at how two similar megaprojects--separated in time by 1,800 years--delivered transformational change through the magnitude of their engineering achievements. Comparison of the two also revealed how their success depended on much more than mere technological mastery to overcome the challenges they encountered.

When the success rate of megaprojects--as measured by on time, on budget and delivering expected benefits--has been estimated at 1 in 1,000--or even more optimistically at 8 in 1,000--finding a better way to manage megaprojects is an urgent imperative for those undertaking them.

But to understand the …

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"Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room."

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