What has been your path to power?

I have spent nearly 30 years working in project delivery, mostly on multi-billion projects at the high end of the complexity spectrum. I also had the honour of leading a $10 billion PMO and a $1 billion infrastructure project. This experience helped me realise that as a profession, we try really hard, but consistently underperform.

In 2016, I spent a year investigating the reasons for project failure. I pulled together c20,000 lessons learned, expecting to apply advanced analytics and find the secret recipe. I was disappointed to discover that the lessons learned were mainly anodyne and biased abstracts that lacked context. We were applying 1970’s methods to capture our experience. It was clear that something had to change. Machine learning provides a capability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed – the answer to our dreams.

But part of the challenge was that project data is of variable quality and often misaligned to our use cases. In 2017, I pivoted Projecting Success to tackle this challenge. I spoke to the NHS and Network Rail at the time and struggled to gain traction – the vision was too bold and aspirational. In late 2017, James Smith and I founded the Project Data Analytics Community. We held our first Project:Hack in 2018, thanks to the support of Sir Robert McAlpine and Microsoft.

In 2019, we collaborated with Sir Robert McAlpine again to found the Construction Data Trust. In 2020, we launched the Project Data Academy and helped to found the Project Data Analytics Task Force. In 2022, we held our 13th community hackathon with c240 participants. Now the path to power isn’t a one-man journey, but a collective of an ever-growing community.