Project Management

The Titanic and the Manager's 5 Deadly Sins

Luis Cáceres is an Associate Partner for LATAM in Global PMI Partners and a Managing Consultant in Improving Performance Ltd. He is certified as a Change Manager, Professional Coach, PMP and Agile PM. He is an author and speaker on the development of managerial competences and has over 16 years of experience managing projects and PMOs in Latin America. He is currently focused on managing post-merger integration on M&A deals.

Every time “Why did the Titanic sink?” is asked, a common answer pops up: Blame the iceberg. A big piece of ice unexpectedly appeared on the path on the ship, which couldn’t avoid the impact, Sinking was an inevitable consequence. Something unexpected happened; that’s why the project failed.

However, this answer hides the true causes. We can blame either the iceberg, the sea or the weather in the same way we place blame when a project or deal fails: We can blame external factors, the economy, the systems, a market that performed differently from projections. But how many times are internal causes blamed, such as management failures? Let’s walk through the Titanic incident to help us visualize some management failures.

The project failure is not due exclusively to factors external to the project, but also internal to the project. Let’s visualize some internal factors exploring the behavioral aspect. Recent research with projects in the biggest companies of the world identified the emotional maturity of the project manager as a key success factor. In addition, five attitudes that facilitate the path to the failure were identified.

Here we will refer to them as the “five deadly sins” of project managers. These attitudes belong to a set of factors that are the perfect soil for “101 frequent cause of failure in the …


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"When you want to test the depths of a stream, don't use both feet."

- Chinese Proverb