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Anecdotes of London - with PM Lessons.

Eros. Or Anteros?

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 love?

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 day.

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 duration.

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 managed.

Did project management really only get going with the post war development of nuclear submarines, power plants and the space race?

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.

London Time.

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 it is".

London Distance.

London is a big place. It is easy to be fooled by distances - and directions.

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.