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Missing the Iceberg – avoiding project failure through killing or redefining it in time webinar

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Most project professionals have found themselves on a project where success looks unlikely, yet nobody does anything about it. Why is this? Flagging up that a project is heading for failure is typically a career limiting move - the messenger bringing the bad news get blamed.

This panel delivered webinar on Tuesday 6 September 2022 explored a simple approach to how we, as project professionals, can flag up the need for changes to projects (or even killing them), in a way that avoids being blamed personally.

This approach can be used in any context where stakeholders don’t want to hear changes are vital.

Getting commitment to reshaping or killing a failing project without the messenger being killed.


Webinar resources

The panel have very kindly allowed their presented material to be made available for viewing. The slides on Slideshare and the webinar recording on YouTube are now available in our APM resources area and also embedded below for reference.

The questions submitted from attendees during the webinar are being reviewed and answered by the panel, and will be added here shortly.

This event is suitable for professionals with any level of experience.


Presented by panel members

Hugh Buckley BEng FAPM specialises in Project, Programme, Change and Business Transformation Management. He has over 25 years’ experience working with clients in senior programme leadership roles across start-up, SME and blue-chip environments. Programmes have spanned infrastructure delivery, technology, IT, new service development and organisational change, with values up to £1 billion. Prior to this he spent 15 years in Systems, Software and Electronic Design in the Telecommunications sector.

His particular areas of interest now include: applying ‘systems thinking’ to the dynamics of complex and uncertain challenges; creating positive working environments for individuals and teams to thrive; and finding constructive pathways through conflict, be it inter-personal, organisational, commercial or cultural.

Hugh is a Fellow of the APM, a ‘Managing Successful Programmes’ (MSP®) Practitioner, trained Coach, accredited Mediator experienced Facilitator and Project Management Mentor for the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB). He has written and published articles and papers on the challenges of successful programme delivery.


Cesar Rendora CEng FICE FAPM RAEngVP is a Chartered Civil Engineer and currently the Head of Engineering & Technical Assurance in Jacobs major programmes and projects group. He has over 38 years impressive track record of delivering major infrastructure projects both in the UK and overseas. His extensive experience includes design and construction management for a broad range of business sectors spanning rails, metros, bridges, highways, mixed-use development, ports and all aspects of tunnel and underground works.

Cesar has been a committee member of APM Systems Thinking SIG for over two years, is an active STEM Ambassador and holds a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor status linked to the University of Portsmouth.


Tony Thornburn OBE MSc FCMI FInstLM MIET MINCOSE decided after 35-years in the Armed Forces and 10-years as a lecturer in Systems Engineering at Cranfield University, where he remains a Visiting Fellow, to change and now works in the charity sector representing those in the complex arena of rare diseases; as both Chair Behçet's UK and Alliance Network Chair, Central and South Genomic Medicine Service Alliance. His is a member of BSI IST/015 Software and systems engineering committee, the MOD-Industry HFI Liaison Group and a STEM Ambassador. Having benefited from a wide variety of appointments and roles he is a champion of systems thinking which he maintains should be applied to every enterprise and endeavour – thus saving us all a lot of time, money and effort, not to mentioned ending up with better outcomes in consequence.

Simon Tinling is responsible for managing requirements and developing systems engineering capabilities within the UK’s Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) programme – a programme to develop a safe, secure and permanent solution for the UK’s higher-activity radioactive waste.   His career spans 30 years in project management and engineering roles within the defence and nuclear sectors, including project roles within the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers Project, the Dreadnaught Submarine Programme and decommissioning of submarines and nuclear facilities.  He is a Chartered Engineer (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) and a Chartered Project Professional (Association for Project Management).  He has a particular interest in the application of systems approaches to complex infrastructure projects and is enthusiastic as both a student and a practitioner of systems thinking.

Amanda Whittaker specialises in customer focused business transformation and has worked with global clients across a range of industries on their experience strategy and operations including technology, measurements and improvements.

During her twenty years as a management consultant, she has managed projects developing solutions, identifying required capabilities and deploying technical and operational changes with an emphasis on change management and adoption.

Andrew Wright PhD ChPP FAPM is a project and programme consultant, dealing particularly with complex and innovative projects in IT and business change. His claim to fame is that he led a major IT project for the NHS that completed successfully, on time and on budget, going on to win three prizes and a Queen's Award.

He also teaches and mentors project managers at all stages of their careers. He’s been a visiting lecturer in Project Management at UCL, the University of Cumbria, and the University of Manchester, and currently teaches NHS apprentices about successful change. As Chair, he’s heavily involved in the APM’s Systems Thinking SIG and a principal organiser of October’s conference on forward-looking project management approaches. His book on focussing project management on success was published in 2018 by Taylor and Francis, Project Success and Quality: Balancing the Iron Triangle.


Previous webinars can be viewed on the APM Slideshare and YouTube channels

Follow @APMEvents for upcoming event information.


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APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition reference

Section Description
Engaging Stakeholders
Working Professionally



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  1. Mark Smith
    Mark Smith 07 September 2022, 10:11 AM

    Thanks to Amanda, Andy, Cesar, Hugh, Simon and Tony for an engaging webinar on avoiding project failure through proactive monitoring, analysis, creating actionable options and getting stakeholder support for the chosen solution. I thought your 5 step approach was well presented and detailed enough to be adaptable to most projects. The reference to the 737 Max disaster and how the interplay of the project team's options with their stakeholders was illuminating and a real lesson in speaking "truth to power". Throughly recommend this to all project practitioners. Mark Smith FAPM

  2. Andrew Wright
    Andrew Wright 07 September 2022, 04:10 PM

    Glad you enjoyed it, Mark! We had a lot of fun developing it, and though I was buzzing at the end, we meet next week to plan the next one!