Project Lessons from The Great Escape ∞ September 26, 2008

September 26, 2008


While you might think your project plan is perfect, 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 is 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, psychological pressures but 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.

Presented by Mark Kozak-Holland:

Mark Kozak-Holland is a Senior Business Architect/Consultant with HP Services. Mark specializes in helping organizations evaluate how emerging technologies can impact their business and build a business justification. Mark has over 20 years of systems integration and services experience gained internationally in all phases of project development from conception to implementation.  Mark delivers seminars for project manager, business executives, and decision makers. Mark has been invited to speak to organizations, businesses, at major project management conferences including Project World, and PMI chapters.

Mark’s topics of expertise include a project case analysis of the Titanic, and how Churchill used business intelligence, knowledge management, and information portals to drive agile processes that helped Britain win the war against Germany in WW II. Mark is very passionate about history and sees its potential use as an education tool in business today. As a result, he has started to develop a “lesson-from-history” series, which is for organizations applying today’s Information Technology (IT) to common business problems. It is written for primarily business and IT professionals looking for inspiration for their projects. It uses relevant historical case studies to examine how historical projects and emerging technologies of the past solved complex problems.


9:30 am – 10:00 am                       Continental Breakfast and Registration

10:00 am – 12:00 pm                     CMIT: Project Lessons from The Great Escape (Stalag Luft III)

Mark Kozak-Holland

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm                       Lunch

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm                         CMIT: Leading Change Panel

Tom Bateman, Moderator

Rick Coro, CIO, Advance Auto

Denis McFarlane, CEO, Infinitive

James Hilton, CIO, University of Virginia

Elizabeth Hackenson, Senior VP & CIO, Alcatel-Lucent