Project governance and failure

See my presentation to University College London (UCL) on the relationship between IT failures and governance.

I spent several days this week talking about project governance and failure to a Master's class in strategic project management at University College London (UCL), one of the top schools in the UK. The course is taught by Dr. Andrew Edkins, a leading figure in UK project management research.

The class consists of senior, professional project managers from both the IT and construction sectors. This diverse class composition presents teaching challenges, because the technologies associated with information systems and building construction are obviously quite different.

Despite the differences, however, the class works well because the underlying issues of governance are similar across both fields. In fact, removing specifics of technology forces the class to remain focused on fundamental governance issues without becoming overly lost in tactical details.

This approach contrasts with many discussions of failure that lose sight of basic, and highly relevant, organizational drivers. Without reference back to organizational dynamics and governance, presentations about failure tend toward surface reporting of fact, without actually telling us anything new or truly interesting. By abstracting common governance lessons shared by both construction and large-scale IT, the class takes a deep dive into the core issues that matter most.

Given all this, perhaps it's no surprise that Dr. Edkins has written among the best failure analysis reports I have ever had the pleasure to read. Unfortunately, the reports are only available to UCL students.

The slide show embedded below contains my presentation to the UCL class. In addition to reading the presentation, you can also download the slides. I will be writing a series of posts on governance and failure, so be sure to check back soon!

[I acknowledge Dr. Edkins for his contributions to these slides.

In addition, I thank Vanda Ladeira, Chief Strategist in the Office of the Chief Executive of the UK Parliament (Twitter: @redmamba), for taking time to explain the critical relationship between fearlessness and governance success; the presentation concludes with this concept.

Parliament innovator, Robert Brook, (Twitter: @robertbrook) informed the presentation with his experience regarding IT process, governance, methodology, and outcomes in a large organization. He also introduced me to Ms. Ladeira.]

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