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Benefits & Case Studies, Project Management

Dismissing a crisis as being “unique”, is fatal

The Summer 2020 APM Project Magazine has a really interesting piece by Bent Flyvbjerg and Alexander Budzier that starts by discussing the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games. I’ve written previously about Flybjerg’s analyses of mega-project failures and, in this article he summarises the consistent overspends and failures to realise bid-claimed benefits.

Interestingly, the authors go on to comment on the way in which organisations react to crises (such as the current pandemic). They say:

Our research has shown that dismissing a crisis as being a unique
event kills organisations in the long term. Therefore, learning from and
through crises is essential. Research has found that learning focuses on
four questions: first, how did we respond to the crisis? Second, how
did the crisis change the relationship between our organisation and its
members? Third, what are the structures, routines and processes that
we need to (re)build, improve or let go? Fourth, how did the crisis change
our organisation’s identity and values?

I think these are 4 really great questions for organisations to ask themselves. They might also help project managers avoid falling into the trap of describing their project as “unique”, which I have also written about previously.

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