What one big project failure says about so many others
Wow!! Great article! I've been waiting for a brief, insightful analysis of our LRT disaster. I will look forward to reading about comparable LRT projects.
Maybe its always been this way (poor mega project management) but I have a strong sense that in terms of real world technical projects, the rise of the MBA in the 1960s until now has contributed to the problem, in that 'professional managers' and 'subject matter experts' became separate entities. My personal and professional experience tells me that the best projects are run by technical experts who can also manage things. That was certainly Rickover's opinion.
Well done article. I think a key component of the blame is missing, and that would be the electorate. The LRT was first conceived and planned for under one mayor, the next election and the dynamics shifted and a new mayor imposed his will on the project and then watson was elected and the rest is history. The electorate wanted to hear that the LRT would be built cheaply and quickly. Those in the know were saying otherwise, but low taxes and champagne services are expected. We get what we vote for, and deserve.
As always, Dan, I do enjoy your work.
This particular column hit home for me as I live in a city (Calgary) that is planning / executing (an unsuitable verb, I believe) / expecting an expansion of our LRT system.
This expansion, according to a recent newspaper report, has no chance of meeting it's expected completion, cost or performance criteria - apparently according to "everyone" within the transit system, if you can believe the report.
I will be interested to see how this real life example of project building will turn out, albeit one with a potential for vast cost overruns that I as a taxpayer will have to live with for many decades; luckily, at age 72 I won't have to live with it too long!
Ahh yes the Ottawa LRT debacle, I remember visiting the sink hole while on the hunt for shawarma in my son’s Carlton days.
Here in BC we had the Fast Cats of the 1990’s. Designed to shave 30 minutes off the trip between Vancouver Island and the mainland it had to be throttled to avoid a shore damaging wake.
Most Islanders will tell you they would prefer large capacity vessels to avoid multiple sailing waits sitting in the terminal rather than small “fast” vessels. But I don’t recall anyone asking for my opinion 🐳💨
Cooperation requires people who are committed to a project. In the article the mayor was committed to a deadline. Determine your honest goal and choose a plan with that goal. If a reliable transit system were the goal the priorities would have shifted and the transit would still be under construction, which seems to be the case anyway.