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Lessons-from-History Services Offerings

Lessons From the Past that Assist the Projects of Today to Shape the World of Tomorrow

Our consultants are from the business world but, with a deep passion for history. They are highly experienced and working project managers, consultants, business analysts. This combination of business and history allows them to reflect on case studies from both the distant and recent past and, in a unique way, draw parallels to today’s business challenges.

We examine critical problems your organization and its projects face. We understand, analyze, and categories these problems. We draw on a database of relevant historical case studies. We then compare these to the problems encountered in your projects. We work with you through the historical case studies, to select the most relevant ones and mine these case studies (with known outcomes) for best practices (proved over time) that we combine with our knowledge of today’s best practices. Finally, we create a report with recommendations and present the findings to you.


These Lessons-from-History workshops examine difficult questions that people avoid or don’t dare ask. They bring to light areas typically avoided because of culture and politics. The case studies provide a communication vehicle to confront “unspeakables” by using situations in a different industry or time that will avoid direct finger pointing yet provide enough similarities that people can still take insights from past mistakes, explore what-ifs and what could have been done. The process triggers out-of-the-box thinking that helps participants discover alternative, explore potential solutions and discover best practices that are easily understood. The workshop facilitator helps the group map the lessons learned back to today's business challenge for comparison and agreeing upon recommendations and next steps.

The workshop brings project management to life with real-world examples.

Sample Case Studies

Issue: Project is highly dependent on new and unproven technologies to solve complex problems
Case Study Project Problem Outcome Best Practices for Today
Roman Colosseum Scale of building using new material technologies Success Run pilots for new technologies (concrete/iron), take modular approach with a gradual scale-up, perfect & test vaulted arches.
Florence Cathedral: Il Duomo Technical challenges related to size and scope Success Scour all similar projects, probe deep, and establish best practices. Use models and prototypes to establish a solution.
First Railway: Stockton-Darlington Options - stationary engine vs. moving vs. horse Success Run series of prototypes and pilots; look beyond current business models (canals) for new business models and opportunities.
Babbage's Difference Engine Complexity of design, limits of technology boundary Failure Find technology solutions that are good enough (don’t have to be perfect), stay on track, and don’t get diverted off critical path.
Hollerith computer Complexity of new concept Success Use proven technology components (different applications), pilot, and then assemble into sub-assemblies – use what works.
Olympic-class ships Complexity of safety technologies Failure Carefully plan testing, rounds of static testing, followed by comprehensive dynamic testing; independent test teams.

Examples of project problems we have reviewed with our clients include the following:

  • Meddling project stakeholders
  • Project costs escalating and budget getting out of control
  • Projects introducing unproven technologies
  • Competing projects and hostile environments
  • Projects jumping to a solution without a strategy
  • Projects delivering quickly to meet market pressures but not meeting expectations
  • Reducing waste and improving efficiencies in projects

References & Testimonials

“What was particularly useful was how you related the PMBoK knowledge areas to that project, and then discussed with our team the parallels that could then be drawn with our agency's project. It was a perfect example of how, even on the best run projects, the results may be disastrous if shortcuts are taken in quality assurance and control. You definitely made the case for continually reviewing our project's risks and assumptions and checking their validity in the light of changing scope. Well done!”
- Bob Morse, PMP, US Client

“The City of Los Angeles and its Emergency Management Department have used the information presented to increase its emergency preparedness activities and our understanding of effective project management. We were pleased to be able to bring Mark to Los Angeles and share the information with our Executive Management. If any agency is interested in evaluating project management success and thinks a self evaluation would be useful, the Lessons From History offerings are the best course of action.”
- Anna Burton, Assistant General Manager, City of Los Angeles

“Most excellent. Project Management through history has given me more to think about in my present time projects, that I am making history with own projects and can build more and more on lessons learned. Thank you again. [...] Really excellent integration of historical perspective into PM context.”
- Jeff Zalusky

Please contact us if you wish to find out more about our Lessons from History Services offerings.

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