David Willcox 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
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
So the point I was trying to make with the analogy is that there are two dimensions
of success to look at:
- Project Team - did we deliver to Time, Cost, Quality, Scope et al?
- 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
Willcox: Project Management Consultant