Method in the Mayhem: Managing Megaprojects (Part 2)

PMI United Kingdom Chapter

Ian Whittingham, PMP is director of Calixo Consulting, providing project and program management expertise from initiation through to implementation, covering business transformation, workflow process re-engineering, and enterprise data integration. He is a regular contributor to ProjectManagement.com. You may contact Ian directly at CalixoConsultingLtd@gmail.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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I think somebody should come up with a way to breed a very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, science?

- Jack Handey

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