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People are at the heart of projects

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A visit last weekend to the newly redeveloped Ashmolean Museum in Oxford brought home the undeniable fact that people are at the heart of projects. As part of the development, an artist was employed to draw the team members from the architects to the construction workers. The result  - a massive mural of the work in progress as well as a multitude of portraits - is one of the most convincing arguments I have ever seen that the success of the project is dependent on the success of the relationships of the people involved.

We get very hung up about leadership, but if you saw the portraits bold sketches of men and women in their workwear their hands exaggeratedly large in their workgloves, you would quickly recognise that, although leadership is important, its the people on the ground who we depend on for successful delivery.

Working to a vision of crossing cultures, crossing times, the whole timeline of the development is displayed, together with artists models, hundreds of plans and detailed layouts for display cabinets and colour schemes. To talk about quantifying the benefits seems almost to belittle the achievement of the project. The realisation of the vision is a triumph the sense of how one culture leads to another and as one falls, so another rises is overwhelming. Even the visitors on the staircase which zigzags up to the skylights are an exhibit in themselves. From the glass walkways, I glimpsed displays of more must-see objects. I will definitely go back and I would urge anyone who wants to be inspired by a truly memorable project to take a tour before they take down the project story.


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  1. Andy Osborn
    Andy Osborn 16 April 2010, 12:59 PM

    Hi Julie,Thanks for this perspective.  Very much in line with the thinking from "people deliver projects" in last night's presentation at the AGM.Watch this space - as you may have heard from Sue Severn I have lined up discussion with Ashmolean about doing an event to cover the refurbishment programme - hopefully coming up in September.

  2. Owain Wilson
    Owain Wilson 24 April 2020, 03:49 PM