Pathogenic Projects

Tuesday 6 December 2016

6:30pm - 8:30pm.
Networking buffet 6.00pm

Staffordshire University, Lecture Theatre LT001, Ashley Building, Leek Road Campus, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DF

Free to attend for both BCS members and non-members. Buffet included on this event.


Projects really are quite splendid things. Everybody loves them.

Everybody wants to work on one. When new ones come along, the drab world old world of IT is magically transformed into a wondrous playground of excitement and opportunity. And as for size, in corporate life there’s just one simple rule when it comes to projects - the bigger the better.

You would be hard pressed to find any IT professional who wouldn’t give their right arm to be involved in a really gargantuan project of epic proportions. Each new venture creates a sense of great occasion and it isn’t long before grand words such as ‘Strategic Project’, (which translates more accurately as ‘it is important and it is mine’) are bandied about the office. You may even hear of ‘Flagship Projects’ which for some strange reason never have anything to do with flags or indeed ships, other than their propensity of course, to sink gracefully beneath the waves.

But while IT projects undoubtedly have the gravitational attraction of a black hole, for the IT leader they are dangerous - very dangerous indeed. Many become pathogenic. ‘Black Death’ IT projects routinely prey on unsuspecting companies and public sector organisations leaving chaos, disaster, millions of lines of disfunctional software and eye-watering outsourcing bills.

But why does this happen and more importantly why does it keep on happening? In this talk we’ll examine some of reasons why projects seem to fail so abysmally with such regularity and ask whether there is anything we can do about it.

About the speaker:

Dr Jonathan Mitchell runs a small Consultancy Company advising Boards and Senior Executives on how they can maximise value from IT-enabled change. He is also the Non-Executive Chairman of the CIO Practice at Harvey Nash plc. His recent book “Staying the Course as a CIO” is the first by a British IT Leader to be included in the John Wiley International CIO Series. Prior to this he spent a decade at Rolls-Royce as CIO, Business Process Improvement Director and Corporate Development Director. Prior to this he was a Vice President at GlaxoSmithKline, having served a long IT apprenticeship at BP. His doctoral thesis on Super-volcanoes included early computer modelling work - using punched cards and paper tape. He is a Chartered IT Professional and a proud fellow of the BCS. He wrote his first program in 1979 and his most recent one yesterday. Neither worked first time.