Major Projects in a Disrupted World - How should we deal with Radical Uncertainty?

Half Day Seminar

21st Oct 2020
14:30 - 17:30
Places Remaining:
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Members Only Event

In March 2020, Mervyn King, ex-Governor of the Bank England and John Kay, published Radical Uncertainty – Decision Making for an Unknowable Future in which they argue that many more of the uncertainties facing governments and businesses have the quality of being mysteries and not puzzles. In short, two men who have spent their careers building numerical models (and still defend them as an aid to organising our thinking) urged decision makers not to be seduced by the spurious accuracy they can provide.

Days after King and Kay’s book hit the shelves, we were hit by an example of this phenomena in the form of the Covid-19 lockdown, the single most disruptive event of many of our professional lifetimes.

Pandemic viruses have been at the top of many country’s national risk registers for years and modelling existed on the likelihood of an outbreak in any given year and its impact. What remained unknown was exactly when a pandemic would strike, what form it would take, how governments and the public would react and a host of other factors. This meant that in the autumn of 2019 we knew something about pandemic virus but nothing that led us to take action to avoid the devasting impact of COVID-19   

How should the major projects community respond to the challenge of Radical Uncertainty? Should we really place so much weight on the analyses of factors such as the value of time savings to be created by a transport scheme, projected decades into an uncertain future.

Equally how can we make sure that models do not lead us to miss or ignore threats that fall outside of their assumptions but in some sense, we know are all to real. The response of many project professionals to the issues identified in National Audit Office’s 2019 Completing Crossrail study was yes of course, we always knew that would be a problem.

To unpack the challenge of decision making under conditions of uncertainty, this session will explore:

  • The role of narratives in shaping and stabilising an uncertain project environment through the lifecycle
  • The relationship between strategic and economic business cases in HM Treasury’s Green Book and similar assessment methodologies and how these and other tools can help projects navigate an uncertain environment
  • The relationship and trade-offs between resilience and efficiency and how project professionals are assessing them.

Programme

21st Oct 2020
14:40 - Housekeeping
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Andy Murray
Executive Director
Major Projects Association
14:45 - Chair's introduction
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Professor Graham Winch
Professor of Project Management
Alliance Manchester Business School
15:00 - Discussion 1: The role of narratives in shaping and stabilising an uncertain project environment

Each panellist will speak for 5 minutes and then we will take questions.

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David Hughes
Strategy and Programme Director
Transport for the North
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Hedley Ayres
Audit Manager
National Audit Office
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Lisa Kelvey
Partner
KPMG LLP
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Dr. Natalya Sergeeva
Associate Professor in the Management of Projects
School of Construction and Project Management, UCL
15:35 - Break
15:40 - Discussion 2: The relationship between strategic and economic business cases in HM Treasury's Green Book and similar assessment methodologies

Each panellist will speak for 5 minutes and then we will take questions.

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Alan Couzens
Capital Portfolio Director
Highways England
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Professor Paul Hammond
Global Practice Leader, Economics
Mott MacDonald
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Tom Aldred
Green Book Review Team
HM Treasury
16:10 - Break
16:15 - Discussion 3: The relationship and trade-offs between resilience and efficiency

Each panellist will speak for 5 minutes and then we will take questions.

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Isabel Coman
Managing Director of In House Services and Estates
House of Commons
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Tim Chapman
Director, Infrastructure
Arup
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Lee Hillyard
Director, Programme Advisory
Turner & Townsend
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Andrew Jones MP
Chair
All Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure
16:50 - Chair's closing comments
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Professor Graham Winch
Professor of Project Management
Alliance Manchester Business School
17:00 - Networking
17:30 - Close
 The event registration is now closed.