Lessons from History - Winston Churchill

When: 16th Oct 2017, 18:00 - 16th Oct 2017, 21:00
Where: BCS, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2 7HA
Town/City: London
Organiser: BCS Project Management Specialist Group (PROMS-G)
Price: Free to attend for both BCS members and non-members
Further Information: Further Information

This event will start at 6.30pm, to be preceded by the PROMS-G AGM at 6.15pm.

Winston Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. But as he became Prime Minister in May 1940, in a period of calamitous change, what did he actually do that we can learn from today? How did he transform his organization to turn his perilous situation around? Churchill was a Project Manager as well in the modern sense driving a project to completion.

This presentation looks at Churchill as a PM managing the UK in the Summer of 1940. It describes the strategies he took to overcome incredible odds. Not only did he have to stave off an imminent enemy invasion but he had to move the peacetime economy to one that could support a war. This meant acting with incredible agility, understanding the military supply-chain, focusing slender resources on the immediate threat, unifying a disparate economy, and directing its output into immediate military use. With very little time Churchill had to transform his organization, and convince US President Roosevelt to support his cause.

Likewise business people today are grappling with an unprecedented level of change adversely impacting their organizations at different levels namely at the enterprise, business unit, or project. This historical analysis is done through a modern business and information lens, describing Churchill's actions and strategy using modern business tools and techniques.

Photos from the Battle of Britain

Learning Objectives Purpose/Benefits

You will learn how the lessons learned from Churchill’s administration can be applied to Project Management today. The presentation juxtaposes this story to modern projects so that we can learn how Churchill:

  • set clear short and long term goals,
  • created and enacted a communication strategy to support his goals,
  • set up a governance framework to overcome institutional resistance to change and broke down organizational silos,
  • selected his project team and supported his leaders,
  • continuously challenged preconceived notions,
  • created a collaborative working environment,
  • evaluated emerging technologies,
  • prioritized various initiatives,
  • instituted a transformation across the enterprise,
  • used information to enhance decision making,
  • used metrics to track and guide the project.


Mark Kozak-HollandThis presentation is from the www.lessons-from-history.com series. As the author behind the series, Mark Kozak-Holland brings years of experience as a consultant who helps Fortune-500 companies formulate projects that leverage emerging technologies. Since 1983 he has been straddling the business and IT worlds making these projects happen. He is a PMP, certified business consultant, the author of several books, and a noted speaker.

Mark has always been interested in tracing the evolution of technology and the 3 industrial revolutions of the last 300 years. Whilst recovering a failed Financial Services project he first used the Titanic analogy to explain to project executives why the project had failed. The project recovery was going to take 2 years and $8m cost versus the original $2m cost and 1 year duration.

As a historian, Mark seeks out the wisdom of the past to help others avoid repeating mistakes and to capture time-proven techniques. His lectures on the Titanic project have been very popular at gatherings of project managers and CIOs.

Presenter's Authorship
The books from the www.lessons-from-history.com series have been written for organizations applying today's business and technology techniques to common business problems. Lessons from the past assist projects of today in shaping the world of tomorrow. The series uses relevant historical case studies to examine how historical projects and emerging technologies of the past solved complex problems. It then draws comparisons to challenges encountered in today's projects. Mark has contributed to far reaching series of articles on Gantthead.com, DM Review, and PM Forum today. He has written several academic papers on historical project management. He defended his dissertation titled “The Relevance of Historical Project Lessons to Contemporary Business Practice” in November 2013 to complete his PhD.