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?