Titanic Lessons for IT Projects ∞ July 13, 2007

July 13, 2007


R.M.S. Titanic was considered by many, including its designers and builders, to be an unsinkable ship. With redundant safety systems that used the latest emerging technologies of the day, the ship was considered so safe that it did not even need a full complement of lifeboats. Yet, a collision with an iceberg put an end to the ship on its maiden voyage and led to the deaths of thousands of passengers and crew. The sinking of Titanic is one of the worst maritime disasters ever.   This presentation analyzes the project that designed, built, and launched the ship, showing how compromises made during early project stages led to serious flaws in this supposedly “perfect ship.” In addition, the presentation explains how major mistakes during the early days of the ship’s operations led to the disaster. All of these disastrous compromises and mistakes were fully avoidable.

Paying attention to how historical projects and emerging technologies of the past solved complex problems of the day provides some very valuable insights into how to solve today’s challenging business problems.

Purpose & Benefits

You will learn how the lessons learned from Titanic’s disaster can be applied to IT projects today. In modern IT projects, we often have situations where we believe that we have designed, built, or launched a “perfect” solution. The presentation juxtaposes the Titanic story and modern IT projects so that we can learn from the disaster how:

  • non-functional requirements can get overshadowed by functional requirements,
  • the executive sponsor can unwittingly compromise the project,
  • project over confidence can invalidate some project stages.

Entertaining and full of intriguing historical details, the presentation helps project managers see the impact of decisions similar to the ones that they make every day. It helps explain the story and to help drive home some simple lessons.

Presenter Biography

Titanic Lessons for IT Projects is from the “Lessons from History” series. As the author behind the series, Mark Kozak-Holland brings years of experience as a consultant who helps Fortune-500 companies formulate projects that leverage emerging technologies. Since 1985 he has been straddling the business and IT worlds making these projects happen. He is a certified business consultant, the author of several books, and a noted speaker. As a historian, Kozak-Holland seeks out the wisdom of the past to help others avoid repeating mistakes and to capture time-proven techniques. His lectures on the Titanic project have been very popular at gatherings of project managers and CIOs.

Presenter’s Authorship

The books from the www.lessons-from-history.com series have been written for organizations applying today’s business and technology techniques to common business problems. Lessons from the past assist projects of today in shaping the world of tomorrow. The series uses relevant historical case studies to examine how historical projects and emerging technologies of the past solved complex problems. It then draws comparisons to challenges encountered in today’s projects. Kozak-Holland has contributed to far-reaching series of articles on Gantthead.com, DM Review, and PM Forum today.


9:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.                          Welcoming Reception and Registration

10 a.m. – Noon                                 Presentation

Noon – 1 p.m.                                    Lunch

1:30 p.m. –                                        Optional Golf for CMIT Members ONLY

Slides – Titanic Lessons for IT Projects