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Project & Programme Management

30 October 2014

Cranfield University’s Stephen Carver Asks Odgers Interim’s Annual PPM Event - Communications: It’s not rocket science….or is it?

Stephen Carver, Lecturer in Programme & Project Management, Innovation Process Management at Cranfield University, was last night the keynote speaker at Odgers Interim’s Annual Programme and Project Management Seminar.

The event took place in the stunning surroundings of 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London. The theme of Stephen’s keynote speech was: Communications: It’s not rocket science….or is it?

During his address, Stephen used the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster as a case study. He explained that as the tragedy unfolded, few realised that this was an inevitable accident which had been predicted by the designers for years. He explained that the day before the launch, the key engineers involved in the mission believed that there was “essentially a 100% probability of disaster”.

Stephen then went on to detail how NASA embarked upon a series of major management reforms after the accident. Sadly, however, these reforms made the launches look almost too safe and as a result over the subsequent years standards and relationships slipped once more. This was cruelly illustrated in February 2003 when the word once again looked on in horror – this time as space shuttle Colombia burned up on re-entry and the entire crew perished

Stephen rightly pointed out that; “the chilling fact was that this was a management repeat of the Challenger disaster and that NASA had not truly learned the lessons of the past.”

The assembled audience were shown a supporting presentation which included - and covered - the following key messages to ensure sustained project and long-term business success:

  • the importance of real communication; 
  • effective leadership of complex strategic change; 
  • sound risk management; 
  • personal responsibility & teamwork; 
  • good inter organisational co-ordination; 
  • the need to keep organisational learning alive; and
  • the dangers of groupthink/silo thinking.

Duncan Hoggett, Head of Odgers Interim’s PPM division said: “Hearing Stephen’s insights and expertise was of huge value. His ability to convey important business messages through such relevant case studies is both unique and engaging. His insightful analysis made people think but they were also able to take away a number of messages that can be applied in their own businesses and the projects/ change programmes they are involved in.”

Categories: Project & Programme Management


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