Anecdotes of London - with PM Lessons.
We are grateful for the contributions to this module which provides
some anecdotes about London with PM themes and lessons.
Eros or Anteros.
The famous winged statue of 1893 at Piccadilly Circus is often
referred to as Eros, the Greek god of romantic love (Cupid in
Latin). In fact the statue may be of his brother Anteros who is
the Greek god of unselfish love. This is a much better reflection
of the purpose of the statue to celebrate the benefactor - Lord
Shaftsbury who developed Shaftsbury Avenue, currently a major
part of London's Theatre Land, and generally a well-respected
person. It is the first known statue cast in aluminium.
Q. So what might be the lesson for Project Management?
A. It is good for project managers to investigate the
possible confusions and ambiguities within their projects, plus
justifications or backgrounds or contexts of projects, to be able
to be knowledgeable and to be able to present them in the best
positive light to team members and stakeholders - including unselfish
The Domesday Book - without London!
The Domesday Book is an amazingly comprehensive and thoroughly
administrative review and record of England and parts of Wales
in the 11th century after the Norman Conquest. Only a few places
were not covered including Winchester (which was the capital at
the time), Bristol, Tamworth - and London (as the City of London
at the time). This may have been to reflect a tax exempt status;
and in the case of London a special relationship between the City
of traders, rather than the barons covering the rest of the nation,
and the Kingdom as Monarchy and Church - which continues to this
Q. What might be the Domesday lesson for Project Management?
A. It is always useful to recognise the exceptional stakeholders
who may have special status or relationships and the background
or reasons; and deal with them accordingly - possibly over a long
Other confusions in London include:
- Canada Tower is not Canary Wharf.
- Chelsea FC football ground is actually in London Borough
of Fulham not Kensington and Chelsea.
- The Angle Islington is actually in London Borough of Camden
and not Islington.
- The NatWest Tower is now Tower 42.
- Big Ben is the bell, not the bell tower - but is that critical?
- Kensington Gardens are in Westminster.
- However the BT Tower in Fitzrovia is still known as the Post
Office Tower by some people.
Tunnelling Machines - in London.
Currently in 2018/2019 the Northern Line is being extended underground
to serve the Battersea redevelopment. When the new tunnelling
machines are not practical at certain points the tunnels are being
dug by hand.
These techniques and equipment are virtually identical to those
initially devised by Marc Brunel as engineer for the first Thames
tunnel under the River Thames from Wapping to Rotherhithe in the
1840s and which is still in use now by Overland rail services.
Q. So what is the lesson for Project Management?
A. All technology was new at some point; and good technology
can still have a purpose.
History of Project Management - seen in London.
Some people feel that project management must have started with
early civilisations organising materials and labour resources
for agriculture, temples, monuments and pyramids.
Others feel that in the early 1900s people such as Mr Gantt with
his bar charts and industrialists with mass production made particular
contributions to project management.
Some people feel that the difference between the First and Second
World Wars was not the armaments or transport but how they were
Did project management really only get going with the post war
development of nuclear submarines, power plants and the space
Has earned value, agile and soft skills confirmed project management
into a profession?
Or is the ability to manage projects just an essential life skill
- like keyboard skills, or driving, or honesty?
All of these permutations and options can be considered while
on a trip to London. All aspects are on show. Where would London
be today without project management?
Weights and Measures.
Measurement is usually very important to project managers when
dealing with the scientific and mathematical aspects of their
projects and programmes. So London is a good place to come and
obtain an international appreciation of such matters.
Britain (and London) has fully adopted metric measurements since
1995. However the previous imperial measurements of length, weight,
area, capacity, volume, power, air pressure and temperature may
still be encountered and sometimes with mixed or unusual arrangements.
Britain has retained money in sterling ponds and pence; while
some other countries have abandoned their own national currencies
for various reasons.
There are many websites with suitable conversion tables for fixed
ratios and variable relationships - frequently involving currencies.
Sectors may also have their own references, nomenclatures and
uses. So for example:
- Areas may be explained in "football pitches" as well as hectares,
acres and square metres, feet and yards.
- Heights and lengths may be defined in terms of "double decker
buses" and "Nelson's columns". " Volumes may be defined as "Olympic
swimming pools" or "mouthfuls".
- There are still expectations of miles per gallon for fuel
for vehicle journeys.
- The "early 90s" is still a hot summer temperature.
- Pints are the only way to order beer.
- Clothing and shoe sizes are different and duplicated - usually.
- It is still possible to "run a mile".
- And tolerances may be explained such as in "2.4 metres give
or take an inch".
The underground rail industry measures speed in kilometres per
hour; and the surface railway industry measure in miles per hour.
The convention to drive on the left may have arisen from allowing
people to draw their swords with their right hand - which may
still be useful on occasions.
However the convention for standing on escalators is to stand
on the right. But there was a good reason for this because the
early escalators discharged people to the left before they reached
the end which made it better for the people to be standing on
the right side and moving on the left side.
Before Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time were universally
agreed and adopted there was London time in UK. This was devised
in the railway early days when a synchronised approach was required
for reliability and safety.
This precision can be helpful on projects although it is still
possible for some team members to "not know which day of the week
London is a big place. It is easy to be fooled by distances -
The distances on Underground and train diagrams and charts can
be misleading. The distances between stations have been standardised
- on the combination maps of lines and on the single line maps
in carriages. Generally the stations are closer together in the
centre - and it may be quicker to walk or get a bus. So, generally,
the stations are further apart as one departs from the centre
but speeds may be better so times are not necessarily longer.
The feelings of distance can be ascertained by the timings between
stations which are displayed on posters on all Underground platforms
and in timetables for railways.