Your Project Just Got Hammered by the Media…

Most likely, the majority of projects we manage in our careers will be low profile or possibly high profile only internally to our companies.  However, as noted in class, there are high profile projects that are visible to the public and media which adds complications.  

We see in the news how the 2012 London Olympics has been plagued with issues.[1]  Having the public eye on every detail of a project can be a hard issue to deal with.  In my job function, we sometimes have to manage projects that are very public to the communities.  Performing real estate for a large manufacturer has been an interesting experience in that we deal with environment issues, decommissioning of plants, and acquisition of land for new buildings or other projects. 

The public isn’t always going to agree with projects that have public visibility.  In my role specifically, there could be labor disputes based on decisions to move a plant or warehouse.  There could be environmentalists that disagree with how or where a building is built.  Being a publicly traded company, these are real concerns for my company.  While we’re tasked to complete projects within budget and within time constraints, political opposition may change how this is done.

Assessing political risk can also be a guessing game.  It may be difficult to gage how a community is going to respond to different projects.  For instance, my company planned on redeveloping old and vacant manufacturing sites in the community into space used for additional housing, community centers, and tourist attraction.  It turned out that some of the neighboring communities disliked the project because it wasn’t going to accommodate all levels of the society.  While redevelopment of vacant and falling down manufacturing plants in our community seems like a no-brainer to some, not everyone agrees.

Companies that have public projects need to assess the political risk involved and weigh whether or not to continue.  Companies need to consider whether completing the project is worth having issues with the surrounding communities or they should find ways to compromise with those that disagree with the project.  Mass communication is making this topic more and more important as it is now easier for individuals to spread news on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Does anyone else have any experiences they want to share regarding the management of public projects?  Do you agree that public projects require more risk analysis?  Can you share an example of a poorly managed political issue of a company?


3 thoughts on “Your Project Just Got Hammered by the Media…

  1. I agree that public projects require heighten risk analysis, but I also think that no matter what a company does someone will be unhappy. Obviously, every company would like to make as many stakeholders as possible happy while pursuing its mission statement, but that is not always an option. An example of a poorly managed project is the Netflix debacle of splitting its services and charging customers more for the two different services. Netflix’s decision and roll out created unbelievable disapproval from its customers and the company is still paying for it a year later.

  2. You bring up a good point about the risks associated with public projects and reading your post reminded me of the Chick-fil-A headline today. The company has already obtained the zoning permit in Chicago and was waiting for approval from the City Council. Assuming the contracts for building the restaurant were already awarded, the construction and project teams that were preparing to build will now have to postpone or possibly even cancel the project because of one comment from Chick-fil-A’s president. I agree that public projects require more risk analysis, but I don’t think any project team could have identified this risk ahead of time. Hopefully their contract has clauses that address unforeseen circumstances such as this one.


  3. Jacob- Invariably all projects have public components. My firm provides technology solutions to mobile phone operators such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint in the US and similar firms globally. As such, these companies promote and market new technologies so the solution behind these technologies need to be delivered on-time. Any delays cause these companies to push back their launch dates thus losing subscribers to competition.

    These operators now have penalty clauses in their contract that get triggered if products are not delivered on-time. No vendor wants to lose money so we ensure on-time product delivery. But there have been instances when we had to pay millions in penalty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *