Heroes of PM – in London

Many heroes of project management have particular features, characteristics or competencies or competences which contribute to their heroicness. The project management community is very committed to defining the optimum levels, scope and combinations of such matters – as Competence Frameworks – for individuals, organisations and projects – for measurement, training and qualification purposes. These frameworks can be very helpful in identifying and considering examples, benchmarking and heroes. Even so, unfortunately the over fifty framework competences may not cover all the characteristics which apply in practice!  Consequently in these brief explanations there may be criteria which are outside the conventional, authorised frameworks. For instance there may be other aspects which may be of interest to the project management community such as: luck, niceness, nastiness, determination, respect, opportunism, connections, versatility, zest, personality, enthusiasm, persistence, loyalty, weather resistance, climate tolerance, presentable, background and others which help people to get on and make contributions.

Project management is often seen as a people business with soft skills and leadership and followship of considerable importance in achieving project and programme success. There are many heroes of project management connected to London in combinations of born, living, working, studying, representing, based in and/or dying in London. However, these publicly recognised people usually represent much wider talented and resourceful teams of colleagues, contractors, consultants and clients. So in providing these names we trust readers will appreciate the wider contributions of the many unsung heroes as people and organisations involved in defining, designing and delivering projects and their benefits.

Plaques and Recognition.

Further sources of names are available for example through the Blue Plaque scheme in London and many other parts of UK.  The over nine hundred plaques in London cover musicians, artists, scientists, writers, politicians, social reformers and more and some for sites for events and inventions – with quite a number with project management links or characteristics.

Other organisations involved with plaques are:

  • British Comedy Society.
  • Royal Society of Chemistry with Chemical Landmark Scheme.

Assistance and guided tours of a general or specific nature can be obtained from Blue Plaque Guides. In contrast to these ‘sung heroes’ there is recognition of ‘unsung heroes’ in Postman’s Park, King Edward Street, EC1A 7BT.

On the internet www.londonremembers.com provides a record of all the memorials in London from blue plaques to fountains.

If walking the streets searching for plaques and memorials does not fit with time availability, fitness, weather conditions or navigation abilities a concentrated source can be the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The ‘nation’ is the United Kingdom but there are a large proportion of the portrait personalities whose contributions to British History have London Connections – with captions, profiles and explanations.

Gender in London
– and Equality

It is inevitable and regrettable that the profiles of famous females with project associations are not as widespread as for the male gender, especially in historically ‘masculine‘ sectors – including in London.

In project management things are changing! There are more females joining the profession, studying for qualifications and reaching all levels and grades. Naturally this is variable across sectors, communities, industries and locations. Although nowadays there is a consistent awareness that more can be done and should be done. Certainly there will be greater benefits of greater multi-gender involvements and contributions – and multi-racial, multi-national and cross-generations.

However, there is a feeling that London is in the forefront of such initiatives and awareness (more research to verify this might be needed and useful).

We have made efforts to achieve gender balance in this section. For probably justifiable historical contexts and reasons there is a concentration on 18th, through 19th and into 20th Century personalities.

For females there are predominances of social issues and politics; with health, medicine and welfare; and then arts and fashion – of writing, painting and acting; plus some royalty and privilege. But there are also representatives within sport, aviation and science.

Certainly there is no provision currently for particular emphasis on feminine issues or themes, with London connections, such as groups for blue stocking, Bloomsbury set or suffragettes albeit these are significant movements.

Is it a coincidence that three of the golden eras for UK and for London have corresponded with three of the longest reigning monarchs who happen to be women – Elizabeth I, Victoria, Elizabeth II? Discuss!

A Few London PM Heroes.

Here are a few examples of people with links to London who may also be of interest and inspiration to members of the project management community.

These people are not all offered as recommended wholesome role models for project managers to emulate. Most of them are far too famous, remote and dead to be directly or completely relevant to the project managers of today or tomorrow – and in different sectors.

However, by studying or investigating such characters it is possible to recognise that they have characteristics and competences of interest to project managers.

These include such as:

  • being tenacious,
  • team motivation and leadership,
  • honesty,
  • respect,
  • organisational and administrative abilities,
  • versatility, etc.

Further information for each may be found in biographies and internet profiles of their lives and works including frequently, as a starting point at least, on Wikipedia.

These people are also featured in museums, galleries and places to visit as well as monuments and installations and are cross referenced in relevant sector sections within this portal.

One of the features of being a good project manager is to use your relevant experience. Here is a specific example in Patrick Abercrombie (1879 to 1957) who brought 50 years’ experience of town planning and produced the Abercrombie Plan for the post-war re-planning of London – a truly regional plan with original features of new towns, M25 orbital motorway, airports at Heathrow and Gatwick, and more. The graphics of the Plan were original and clear.  Other plans include the Bressey Plan of 1930s and by Colin Buchannan in 1960s.

PM Characteristic: Patrick was constantly collecting knowledge and experience throughout his career and then made in useful and available in a presentable manner.

Computers are essential tools for modern project management with their hardware, software and applications. Charles Babbage (1791 to 1871) is known as “the father of the computer”; so we all owe him a tremendous debt. He was a mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer. Examples of his machines can be seen at the Science Museum in South Kensington – together with many other artefacts of interest to project managers.

A blue plaque is located at Larcon Street and Walworth Road near his birthplace; with a black plaque at 1 Dorset Street.

PM Contribution: where would we be in project management without calculators, laptops and silicon chips? Thank you Charles for getting us started.

There are many 19th century civil engineers who had a significant impact on, in, over and under London. Bazalgette (1819 to 1891) is a particular example of the right man at the right time – to be the Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works. He may be best known for his achievements with the London sewer system. This was in response to the 1858 Great Stink, cholera epidemics and a filthy River Thames. This includes new main sewers (82 miles), street sewers (1,100 miles) and pumping stations which were a true programme of projects – operational by 1865 with a further ten years to complete. What can we learn from Bazalgette? He built things to last. For sizing of drains he took the highest densities of occupation with the largest discharges – and then doubled the size of drains. That is why they are still working today. He introduced quality control methods for mass production and testing of materials such as Portland cement – following on from initiatives such as for the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition. However possibly Bazalgette’s more visible legacy is the number of elegant bridges that still span the River Thames at Putney, Albert, Battersea, Blackwell; embankments Albert, Victoria, Chelsea; and streets such as Charing Cross Road, Northumberland Avenue and Shaftesbury Avenue.

His legacy is all around in Central London; and celebrated with a blue plaque at 17 Hamilton Terrace and a monument on Victoria Embankment.

Other engineers of that period who also made significant contributions through their management of projects include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Thomas Telford and others (a visit to the Institute of Civil Engineers in Westminster may be of assistance).

PM Legacy: Sir Joseph left many physical legacies; but overall it is possible for things to look good, do their jobs and last for ages.

(1955 to present) It was only in 1989 that an information management system that Sir Tim invented became the World Wide Web. Modern project management is dominated by such electrical and electronic communications

 – helping children.

– who identified the Barnes or Iron Triangle of time, cost and scope (including quality). More significantly he was instrumental in devising the New Engineering Contract (NEC) as an equitable contract for delivering projects. Past chairman and President of APM.

– an anthropomorphised bear, originally from darkest Peru, but always committed to London. His relevance to project management includes his efforts “to try so hard to get things right” and his constant politeness.

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– (1788-1855), part of the influential Cubitt family, he was the first major contractor to employ a permanent workforce – which project managers will understand as highly influential in delivering projects, statue in Denbigh Street and plaque.

– (1812-1870) well known as a popular writer from Victorian Times to the present day – frequently with London contexts; but also a social critic. he was someone who made a difference. Many project managers would like to make a difference. Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty St, London WC1N 2LX.

– (1797 1867), like Sir Humphrey Davy he came from a poor background but was highly influential in the new profession and science of physics; and was a key initial influence in the Royal Institution. Project management definitely is linked to science and physics. If one thinks project management or technology has come a long way in a short time period one has only to look at what happened to science in the first half of the 19th century.

(1807-83) – one of the founders of medical statistics with a data driven approach to public health with graphical representations.

– (1847-1929) a British Intellectual, political leader, activist and a writer. As indicated by her statue in Parliament square she remains a feminist icon. As a suffragist she took a moderate line but was a tireless, dedicated campaigner.

– UK industrialist and influential President of Association for Project Management who made a lasting impression.

– penicillin – research / innovation. + Joseph Lister? + John Snow (cholera map), Broad Street, miasma) =+  William Farr (statistics). What an amazing impact a single discovery can have on mankind in penicillin?  Will Agile have a similar impact?

– prison reformer.

(1795 to 1879), a versatile man who developed education for the emerging middle classes, reformed and improved railway services, but possibly most significantly devised the reliable, prepaid, penny postal services which for many years was the predominant means of communication – adopted throughout the world. He is celebrated with a statue in King Edward Street, EC1 and in many other countries and with a blue plaque at 1 Orme Street.

– (1947-2018) influential 2012 Olympics champion, local London politician and government minister.

– (1834-1896) artist, designer, writer, socialist; forever associated with the Arts and Crafts movement; a person with strong principles who got things done; much of his work can still be seen and is still in production.

– known as the ‘lady with the lamp’ from nursing soldiers in the Crimean war; but continued as a significant reformer and advocate of health practices, hospital designs and medical improvements.

– (1795-1869) A London-based American born modern philanthropist, possibly the first modern one, who established the Peabody Trust in 1862. Currently with over 55,000 houses as a community benefit society and urban regeneration agency. Statue at Royal Exchange.

– (1900-1969) Lecturer at London University and writer producer at BBC in London, most famous for gamesmanship and one-upmanship. It is important that project managers understand and recognise these techniques in clients, team members and stakeholders; and so they can practise and then implement them themselves – on occasions – as necessary – possibly.

– (1880-1960) Architect of iconic London symbols including Bankside Power Station – now Tate Modern; Battersea Power Station – now undergoing compete change of use; telephone kiosks – particularly K6 after K2; and Waterloo Bridge – for the view.

– (1907-1985) a Swiss architect who championed self-build housing with standard components. Project management lesson: keep it simple, cleverly simple.

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