This case study is an abridged version of Mark Kozak-Holland's eBook: Project Lessons from The Great Escape (Stalag Luft III). It was submitted for publication by email 11/6/08.
It is copyright to M. Kozak-Holland, © 2008.

About the Author's Work | Introduction | Project Reality 
Project Scope Management | Work Breakdown Structure | Summary
Part 1 - Case Study Exercises | PART 2

Work Breakdown Structure

In project management the primary tool to describe a project's scope is the work breakdown structure. Bushell did not define this on paper but he carried it in his head. Observations on Bushell were that "He had a mind like a filing cabinet, and that was one of the reasons he was so brilliant at organization."[3]

As work started on the new compound the Senior British Officer approached the Kommandant and suggested that a few POW working parties help in the building of the new compound. The Kommandant, believing the offer was in the right spirit of cooperation and likely to raise morale, unknowingly introduced members of the escape committee into the compound. They paced and mapped the layout of the camp, calculated distances and angles, and surveyed the area outside of the wire.

They began to put together all the details for the escape, such as where to dig the tunnels and how long they should be. One of the German surveyors handed over the plans for the compound, and the POWs stole them and carried them back to the camp to be studied. These diagrams revealed the underground sewage system and two tunnels leading out to nearby drainage areas although too narrow for escape purposes.

The escape committee had to carefully consider the many elements that defined the scope of the escape project, for example:

  • Number of tunnels dug, determined by the number of concrete foundations available (hut footings) and the risk of discovery
  • Depth and length of the tunnels, determined by the distance from the camp to the woods and available tunnel shoring materials
  • Scope of intelligence and security required, as at any time six guards were wandering around in the compound
  • Number of escapers that could get through a tunnel in a given night
  • Equipment required for completing the tunnel, and also for the escapers going through the tunnel

The scope was also defined by the calendar and the seasons. For example, tunneling in the winter was a challenge as any sand dispersal onto the snow-covered ground was not possible. Also in the spring the thaw of heavy snow accumulation could have a significant impact on any tunnel, with the weight of the melt bearing down on it. Summer traditionally was escape season as any other time was not conducive to surviving in the open without shelter. So the scope of the project was driven by seasonal windows.

Project Scope Management  Project Scope Management

3. The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill
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