This paper is the second of a four-part series in which an attempt has been made to capture the collective wisdom of the leading participants in an extended LinkedIn discussion over the first six months of 2014. The actual original texts have been edited for grammar and spelling to make for easier reading online. The observations quoted are the opinions and property of the contributors as noted.

Published here September 2014.

PART 1 | Introduction | Stan Krupinski - Andrzej Wardaszka | Richard Stubbs
Brian Phillips | Max Wideman Introduces KPIs and KSIs | David Willcox | David Hatch
Larry Moore - Cliona O'Hanrahan | Mounir Ajam | PART 3

David Willcox[13] Presents an Analogy

Cook is a captain of a sailing ship. Captain Cook has been asked by the government to deliver, to a remote island on the other side of the world, some living animals that are then intended to breed and consequently support a colony on the island in two years time. He needs to deliver the animals alive in two months time navigating difficult stormy waters to get there.

Project Owner = Government
Project Manager = Captain Cook

Captain Cook and his crew of merry men (never forget the Project team!) can consider themselves successful if they deposit the animals alive on the island in two months. However, the Project cannot be considered a success unless the animals breed sufficiently to support the colony in two years time. The delivery of the benefits of the project is the responsibility of the owner not the project manager.

By the way, after the ship set off, the Government determined that there was a better island 100 miles away from the first that would better support life. A pigeon was sent to the ship with this change of plan and the Captain sent one back saying it would take another two additional weeks to get there. He achieved this revised target. That's classic change control.

@Larry: This could easily become a semantic discussion that I want to avoid if at all possible. If the animals didn't breed and support the colony and you spoke to a member of the government, they would be unlikely to say that the project was a success! They paid out a bagful of gold to Cook and crew but didn't get the benefits.

So the point I was trying to make with the analogy is that there are two dimensions of success to look at:

  1. Project Team - did we deliver to Time, Cost, Quality, Scope et al?
  2. Project Owner - were the stated benefits of the Project realized? (maybe a product but not always)

If you speak with the Sydney government about the project to build an iconic Opera house, I'm sure they will say it was an ultimate success in terms of the benefit case despite the Project team delivery being one of the worst ever on record!

Max Wideman  Max Wideman

13. David Willcox: Project Management Consultant
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