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What Can We Learn From Hollywood?


In Hollywood’s golden age, the big studios used to make a certain number of ‘pictures’ each year, keeping directors, crew, and actors on permanent contracts. This arrangement led to many unforgettable classics. These days, though, every movie is a project. The studio assembles talent for the duration of the production, disbanding the group at the end.


What’s this got to do with the energy industry?

Getting a large complex feat of engineering up and running is never ‘business as usual’. From drilling rigs to biogas plants, or complete offshore wind farms, the unique context of the undertaking is what makes it a project. That means assembling a team to get the job done.

Many large organizations mistake their ‘corporate organization’ for their ‘project organization’. The ‘corporate organization’ has standards designed to make it as robust as possible, barring black swan events. The ‘project organization’ must be resilient, adapting to whatever the world throws at it.

It helps, therefore, to think of each project as an organizational change initiative. But rather than seeing ‘organizational change’ as a complete ‘transformation’ of the company, each project is its own temporary organization.

The project has a challenge level which always includes both known risks and other risks you can’t know in advance. The trick, then, is to anticipate as many of the known risks as possible, guess at the unknowable ones, and prepare to take a mindful approach once the job is underway, changing course as needed.

Some changes are more material than others. But all need to be confronted and dealt with or the project will inevitably succumb to a ‘death by a thousand cuts’, or worse. Costs escalate, delays ensue, and fingers are pointed. You may not have any stroppy actors who storm off to their trailers in a huff. But you are dealing with people, who can be unpredictable when they need to adapt.

Most organizations have a standard ‘Management of Change’ process tucked up their sleeve. But how do they know if their project organization has the capability to deal with the changes? And how to assess which forces will come to bear on the project, making change necessary?

Understanding the capability level your team needs, relative to the level of the challenge you face, is the first priority. Which is why we developed our Project Horizons assessment. It will help even your odds of making your project a monster hit.


[Image credit: Hollywood sunset, Venti Views on Unsplash]