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Project Lessons from The Great Escape and Leading Change

September 26, 2008

You might think your project plan is perfect, but would you bet your life on it? In the Second World War, a group of 220 captured airmen did just that -- they staked the lives of everyone in the camp on the success of a project to secretly build a series of tunnels out of a prison camp their captors thought was escape-proof. The prisoners formally structured their work as a project, using the project organization techniques of the day. This talk was about how the escape committee, under tremendous pressure, inspired their inmates around them to continue a fight considered lost. Not only did they have to stave off hunger and psychological pressures, they also had to deliver a project under acute circumstances. This meant understanding the problems facing them, focusing slender resources on the immediate task in hand, unifying the camp prisoners, and directing these into the project. With very little time, the escape committee transformed the camp into an agile project, one that could adapt to changing and unexpected daily situations.

Mr. Kozak-Holland's presentation was followed by a panel of business experts on leading change.


Mark Kozak-Holland, Senior Business Architect/Consultant, HP Services, Author
Rick Coro, CIO, Advance Auto 
Denis McFarlane, CEO, Infinitive 
James Hilton, CIO, University of Virginia 
Elizabeth Hackenson, Senior VP and CIO, Alcatel-Lucent