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?

Mark Kozak-Holland is the founder behind the Lessons from History series. As a historian, Mark seeks out the wisdom of the past to help others avoid repeating the same mistakes and to capture time-proven techniques. As a consultant, he brings years of experience helping Fortune-500 companies formulate projects that leverage emerging technologies. Mark is a Project Management Professional (PMP), a certified business consultant, the author of several books, and a noted speaker. He can be reached at mark.kozak-holl@sympatico.ca or to discover how historical projects of the past relate to projects of today visit www.lessons-from-history.com.


As project managers we have all seen it before - stakeholders meddling in projects. A project can get quickly out of control when stakeholders start to meddle. By definition, "meddling" means:

  • To interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one's concern.[1]
  • To intrude into other people's affairs or business; interfere.[2]

But what happens when stakeholders usurp the role of the project manager, start to make decisions, and steer the project in a new direction? As a project manager, what do you do? What contemporary case studies can we turn to? The answer is: we cannot - there are practically none. Indeed, what organization would disclose these types of project issues?

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Just look at well-documented projects from the past. For example, the project to build the Olympic-class ships Olympic and Titanic, one of the most famous projects of the twentieth century, where you would not expect to see stakeholders meddling. Nevertheless, the project provides strong learning lessons in what could go wrong in projects - even today. Even though this happened a century ago, there are many strong parallels to modern project failures.


1. Source: Merriam-Webster - The Free Dictionary
2. Source: TheFreeDictionary
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