Creative Project Management: Lessons from the Jungle
Inventor Thomas Edison said that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration and this is especially true of history’s great projects.
When we think about projects we often think of the construction of great bridges or the building of Pyramids and of course such huge undertakings need exceptional project management, a big budget and in ancient times a few slaves.
But spare a thought for the little guy. Often we don’t have the resources and finances of big governments or Egyptian kings. Sometimes we have a vision of getting something done and have to quite simply work out a clever way of making it happen.
Take Brian Sweeney ‘Fitzcarraldo’ Fitzgerald for example: an eccentric Irishman living in Peru in the 1900’s. He had a vision of making serious money by running a steamship up the Amazon River to trade in the then highly prized commodity of rubber. The river’s current was too strong to pass in one direction and there was a mountain in the other. So, how was he going to project-manage his way through?
He decided to take the ship over the mountain - literally. 340 tons of steamship, intact, over the mountain and to the calmer waters and certain fortune on the other side!
He used classic project management techniques: identification of key objectives and scope, enlistment of the appropriate resources, management of key milestones and roadblocks to success. Amazingly he achieved the impossible and with the help of native tribes and a couple of smart engineers he moved a ship over a mountain.
Sadly he never made his fortune but was a project manager par excellence with the vision, skills and energy essential to successful project management. Although he’d probably ‘gone tropo’ you have to admire his effort!