Originally published in http://mmpubs.com/ and www.lessons-from-history.com/
Copyright to M. Kozak-Holland, © 2012.
Published here June 2013

Introduction | The Essence of the Olympic-class Ship Project 
The Technical Scope of the Olympic-class Ship Project
The Effect of Sponsor Meddling | What Can We Learn?

The Effect of Sponsor Meddling

Was Bruce Ismay, the principal stakeholder and sponsor, really "meddling" or just vigorously expressing his "stakeholder requirements"? Whichever you decide, it is worth examining the general response to the situation. In the minds of the architects, the safety of the ship was being compromised. However, the project architects were unable to control this "meddling in fundamental ship design" because they didn't want to confront the project sponsor, Bruce Ismay.

But they also fell into the trap of thinking that the compromises were not as bad as they seemed. They truly believed the aggregated effect of the combined safety features that were being proposed would still protect the ships. Perhaps there is some truth in this, and an arrogant view evolved that these ships were simply huge lifeboats due to the number of those safety features.

Indeed, the project team apparently succumbed to "group think", making the compromise easier to justify. Worse yet, as the first major compromise was conceded, other stakeholder "meddling" followed throughout the project resulting in further compromises. Although the compromises continued in this way, such was the confidence in the aggregated safety features, that by the end of the fitting-out phase there was a general belief that no scenario could cause the ship to founder. In short, the perception grew around the project that the ship was unsinkable. Nevertheless, the ship's design suffered serious design flaws and the probability of a disaster increased further with the pomp and grandeur of a maiden voyage.

In hindsight, the seeds of Titanic's disaster were sown into the project process.

The Technical Scope of the Olympic-class Ship Project  The Technical Scope of the Olympic-class Ship Project

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