Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Project: Stop the Oil Leak

Leadership, Ownership, and Trust are extremely important in successful large IT projects. I concluded this after conducting some research a few years ago (see Sacred PM Practices). In the years since, I have looked around to see how these attributes play out on my own projects, and in the world.

America's eyes are focused on the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spill. The stopping of the leak and cleanup could be considered a project -- it is a temporary effort, there is a beginning, some objectives, and an end. Just for fun, let's call this project, Stop the Oil Leak. During the next few posts, I'd like to share some of my observations of this project, and hope that you will share your own.

On May 27th, President Obama declared, "I am responsible." This would seem to address the attibute, ownership. Once he admitted that, it was clear who is responsible for the success or failure of this project. As an aside, I think BP is the owner of this project, but that probably speaks more of my personal views of accountability, and less of project ownership.

Was this declaration a good move by the White House? Do you believe it relieved the executives and employees of BP? Who do you think owns this project?


  1. During church service today, a leader prayed for President Obama to know what to do to stop the oil leak. No mention of BP management.

    I guess the author of the prayer believes President Obama is responsible for stopping the leak.

  2. I believe that Pres. Obama has a responsibility to protect the environment in our nation. Perhaps BP and their faulty practices that led to the leak could have been monitored more consistently, infractions punished, violations repaired, etc... and these are probably the responsibilities of a national regulatory agency. Although the POTUS may be part of the structure of a failed regulatory agency, I don't believe that makes him personally responsible for any single incident.

    His mission now should be to see that national regulatory agencies that protect our environment and the harm industries cause are better managed in the future. If these agencies are responsible for assisting and regulation the cleanup they should do that. The responsibility for the incident falls directly on the leaders of BP, however, and their failure in following laws, regulations and safety procedures that should have prevented the leak. It is SO standard in any industry to have Standard Operating Procedures and backup plans in place should SOPs not be able to be fulfilled or fail - what happened?