Podcast: The Lessons of Megaprojects Past

In an appearance on the The Boardroom Oil & Gas Today Podcast, Founder and CEO of Independent Project Analysis (IPA), Edward Merrow, spoke with host Tim Haidar about megaprojects in the oil and gas industry. The 10-minute interview included topics such as learning from past megaprojects, defining success versus failure, approaching megaprojects more slowly, and the anticipated skill shortage in the near future. What was perhaps most interesting from a learning perspective was Merrow’s answer to this question posed by Haidar:

Can the key learnings from successful megaprojects be transferred to their smaller scale cousins? Can this be rolled out across all scales of projects?

Edward Merrow: “Absolutely, it can. There are relatively few things unique to megaprojects. There are only a few aspects of the projects that need to be thought about differently than the smaller projects. But, the basics of how to do projects are pretty much understood across the board in the industry. Our problem is we just don’t do it. We tend to lack the discipline necessary.

“But absolutely, the same things that make megaprojects successful make smaller projects successful as well. Many of our projects turn out to be essentially unmanageable because they weren’t well enough prepared to be managed by mere mortals. [We think] maybe heroes can do it but simple humans can’t. And that’s why we end up failing, and failing pretty often. There really aren’t very many genuinely new mistakes. I think that we’ve been making mistakes for a long time. I do think that we need to learn. I think that we can learn, and I think that we need to actually take in the lessons of the past because we’d have much more successful businesses if we did.”

You can listen to the full 10-minute interview with Edward Merrow as heard on The Boardroom Oil & Gas Today Podcast in its entirety by visiting here.

In 2011, Edward Merrow authored Industrial Megaprojects: Concepts, Strategies, and Practices for Success (John Wiley and Sons) and subsequently developed the IPA Institute’s 3-day Megaprojects seminar, which is offered in several cities around the world each year.

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