On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound.
Most of our learning about project management comes from personal experience, from the experiences of others, from texts and professional materials and from presentations and training. The content of these sources is specifically about project management. This is what I call direct learning.
The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
But there are other ways to learn about project management, ways I call indirect. One slightly surprising source of lessons about project management is film. Many films aren't directly about project management, and yet, indirectly, they have much to teach us. One of these is The Last Place on Earth. There are many more — for more examples, see "Films Not About Project Teams: Part I," Point Lookout for July 28, 2004.
I mention The Last Place on Earth because it's the story of the race to the South Pole, which occurred in the Antarctic summer of 1911-1912. The film is based on the book of the same title, by Roland Huntford. I recommend both.
In this program, we use the history of this event to explore ten important lessons about managing complex projects. From this story we can learn lessons about leadership, planning, scope creep, risk management, improvisation, discipline, organizational politics, team dynamics, technology management, and the importance of simplicity.
Very engaging and insightful presentation. Loved the history blended
neatly with exceptional wisdom for project managers and in fact, any risky endeavor. Would
recommend it to anyone.
— Terence FowlerAttendees will learn valuable lessons from history that they can immediately apply to managing current projects and planning new projects. The drama of the story of Amundsen and Scott makes these lessons more intriguing, easier to learn, and much, much more memorable.
Each of the ten lessons we chose to examine is illustrated with background and stories from one or both of the two expeditions. The stories are memorable, and told with an emphasis on their value to project managers, sponsors, managers, and executives in project-oriented organizations.
Here's a concise summary of the ten lessons:
This program is most suitable for keynote presentations and conference general sessions, or for large groups. Heavily illustrated with maps and original photographs, the stories bring the events of 1908 through 1912 — just over 100 years ago — to life. It is especially suitable for audiences that desire some relief from the sometimes-dry style of presentations that address similar subject matter. Audience interaction and table discussions about accompanying prepared discussion questions bring the lessons of the Race to the Pole into focus in contemporary experience.
We usually think of project management skills as rather technical — free of emotional content. We hold this belief even though we know that our most difficult situations can be highly charged. Despite our most sincere beliefs, taking a project organization to the next level of performance does require learning to apply knowledge management skills even in situations of high emotional content. That's why this workshop uses a learning model that differs from the one often used for technical content.
Our learning model is partly experiential, which makes the material accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical team problems, we make available to participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.
Project managers, program managers, managers, executives, leaders, and project team members. Participants should have experienced at least six months working with or as a member of a project team.
Available formats range from 50 minutes to one full day. The longer formats allow for more coverage or more material, more experiential content and deeper understanding of issues specific to audience experience.
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada: January 15, Monthly Meeting, Regina/South Saskatchewan Chapter of the Project Management Institute.
If you would like to observe this event to help you evaluate the suitability of this program for your organization, please contact me to inquire whether VIP admission is possible.