The cost of Boston’s “Big Dig” ballooned to $14.8 billion – five times the original estimate – before its completion in 2007, eight years behind schedule. Europe’s infamous “Chunnel” project connecting London and Paris took approximately 20% longer than planned and came in 80% over budget. Overruns on the Airbus A380 cost the CEO his job. Kmart imploded due to a runaway mega IT project. BP is all but surviving Deepwater Horizon. And Fukushima has laid waste to the global nuclear industry.
Such failures aren’t unprecedented; a list of the world’s megaproject fiascos would go on for pages. It’s Bent Flyvbjerg’s Iron Law: over budget, over time, over and over again. But if the problems are so predictable, why aren’t we learning from our mistakes?
It’s an enigma that Flyvbjerg, the project management industry’s guru and most widely cited scholar in the field, has made it his mission to resolve. And it’s a question this must-watch video, based on Flyvbjerg’s work, brilliantly probes as it dissects Seattle’s currently halted billion-dollar underground transportation catastrophe making national news for its bevy of botches.
Megaprojects need a radical transformation, in business and government. It starts with better understanding the root causes of failure and teasing out the secrets of the few who know how to deliver megaprojects successfully. Flyvbjerg is the authority on both.
Flyvbjerg, a renowned professor at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, is currently writing a book that promises to make waves – and real progress – in the field of project management. The challenges and opportunities he describes aren’t out of anyone’s realm; they’re real and they’re urgent. If your business is in any way dependent on the success of large projects, listening to Flyvbjerg is a must.