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Anything General

  1. What happens if engineering is trumped by politics?

    The world needs megaprojects to deliver the economic and social goods that billions of people lack and to create the economic growth that will pay for them. But a bad project has consequences that go well beyond a specific bridge, tunnel, or sewage system. Is there a risk that we fall out of love with megaprojects not because they are beyond our engineering capability but because they are beyond our political appetite?

    The July 2015 McKinsey report on Megaprojects: The Good, the Bad and the Better, has few major surprises but some useful insights and it prompted me to reflect on the question of capability versus political will.

    02-06-2017 10:10 by Jonathan Norman

  2. Leadership

    When we talk of leadership we often talk of leaders. In your view is there a difference between them, and if so what is the key difference?

    18-07-2017 07:42 by Dicle Kortantamer

  3. RE: Leadership

    I have come to recognise (largely because it interests me and seems valuable) the growing phenomenon of distributed leadership. Working on projects, there are formal leadership roles - the sponsor, the project owner - but just as significant are the temporary leaders, those individuals from across the project team who step into a leadership role for a short period of time because that is what the project requires. Many of the traditional models and leadership roles now seem outdated in the post-digital, post-globalisation world and I think that this is reflected in the behaviour of senior leaders themselves who are adopting new roles, that of facilitator rather than governor, for example.

    19-07-2017 07:44 by Jonathan Norman


  1. Advice on kick-off messages

    Does anyone have any advice for imaginative (but appropriate) messages to share with a project team at the kick-off for a major project. I am looking for ideas that offer alternatives to worthy corporate announcements.

    20-04-2017 11:14 by Jonathan Norman

  2. What are the best media for communicating complex and nuanced data?

    The trouble with written reports is they can be a very long-winded way of communicating complex or nuanced data and their linearity (you start at the beinning and work your way through) makes them one-dimensional. Has anyone got experience of using video, infographics or other media for this purpose?

    19-05-2017 12:42 by Jonathan Norman

  3. RE: Advice on kick-off messages

    Not sure about at the start of a project, but when I want to motivate people to outperform the specifications or exceed customer expectations, I often ask them to think of themselves as stakeholders, neighbours, end users of the assets we are designing and constructing, or taxpayers (bill payers). A project team member in some form or another is each and all of these groups! I champion teams to embrace opportunities, not to focus on the negativities of risk. Smile, engage, be transparent and people will often give you the benefit of the doubt, but you can't please eveveryone and it's important not to waste significant amounts of energy doing so!

    07-07-2017 11:01 by Paul Morris

Consents & powers

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  1. Artificial Intelligence on Major Projects

    I am hearing more and more about Artifical Intelligence and its potential application on management of major projects, with Smart Wikis, chat bots and insights from smart analysis of multiple complex data sources.  Has anybody any experience of using AI on a major project and how successful has it been?

    09-05-2017 09:54 by Karen Elson

  2. RE: Artificial Intelligence on Major Projects


    Hi Karen, one of the ideas we are considering @ Tideway Dragons' Den is an AI algorithm. Will report back when public!




    02-06-2017 09:38 by Paul Morris

  3. Agile

    Adopting agile methods in large projects or organisations can be challenging, especially when agile methods are integrated with more traditional methods in large organisations. Brian Hobbs and Yvan Petit have recently published an article in the PMI journal (volume 48 number 3) on the challenges of scaling agile to large organisations.  Their findings from six case studies highlight that one of the key challenges is the difference in the role definitions between agile methods and more traditional methods. They also highlight that approval processes can be challenging in terms of negotiating special approval methods for agile. 

    Do you experience these issues in your organisation? What type of challenges do you have when using or interacting with agile approaches?


    11-07-2017 08:20 by Dicle Kortantamer


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Health & Safety

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  1. Innovation champions

    Large-scale infrastructure assets such as water facilities, airports, roads, railways are complex systems that require a large investment commitment, take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, and have long-lasting impact on the economy, the environment, and society (Flyvbjerg, Bruzelius, & Rothengatter 2003; Lundin & Söderholm, 1995; Söderlund, 2004). Innovation is increasingly recognized as an integral part of major British infrastructure megaprojects– from Heathrow Terminal 5, via the Olympic Park and Crossrail towards Thames Tideway Tunnel and HS2 High-Speed rail link. Megaproject history demonstrates the transformation from a fixed-price contracts, lowest-cost tendering and adversarial relationships to relationship-based procurement, collaboration, innovation and leadership, placing Britain in a unique position of global influence (Davies, Gann, & Douglas 2009; Davies & Mackenzie, 2014). Whilst megaprojects may possess some repetitive features and some degree of permanency, they are essentially unique, temporal endeavors, where stakeholders involved tend to change their positions regularly across megaprojects. Often programs are led by planners and program managers who change throughout the long program cycles, leaving leadership weak (Flyvbjerg, 2014). The innovation potential for megaprojects is subjected to a fundamental tension: on the one hand, they offer a one-off opportunity to invest in cutting-edge technologies and innovative systems; on the other hand, project stakeholders have limited time to develop competencies to absorb and adapt technologies and innovate through various activities (Gil, Miozzo, & Massini, 2012). The majority of megaprojects operate in a context of collaborative work meaning that they move away from coordinating via formal, more rigid organizational structures (e.g. rules, schedules, division of labour) towards an emphasis on inter-personal coordination and informal communication mechanisms. The formal innovation manager job role has been created; and informal innovation groups in megaprojects comprise the team of innovation champions and leaders (Sergeeva, 2016, 2017). Megaprojects tend to develop an innovation strategy which identify, develop and implement innovative ideas from every corner of organizations. The management of innovation in megaprojects is increasingly recognized as an important area for successful delivery and impact on the policy-making, economy and society. These questions are of interest and value to the project management field as they address the literary gaps in innovation leadership at program levels highlighted by Davies et al. (2009), Gil et al. (2012) and Winch (2014).

    Launched in October 2016, the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform (i3P) creates an opportunity for the industry embrace and push forward technological advances made through major programs. The group is formed by major clients, contractors and industry representative bodies including Construction Leadership Council and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. This platfrom allows innovation champions to get together and apply innovations in different settings. 

    09-06-2017 15:46 by Natalya Sergeeva

  2. RE: Innovation champions

    Cool feature, thanks Natalya! Not sure 'formal' and Paul Morris Innovation Manager has ever been used in the same sentence!


    07-07-2017 10:54 by Paul Morris

Land & Property

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Procurement, Law & Supply Chain Management

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Talent & Resources

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