The Paradox of Excessive Caution
Our focus on project management is to demonstrate the relevance of "management" in the delivery of effective, efficient, and economical services and service development as applied to industry, professions, and government
In our recent discussions surrounding project management, a critical point of contention has emerged: the delicate balance between necessary risk mitigation and the inadvertent stifling of innovation and efficiency due to overcautious approaches. This editorial and this week's webinar - see below, draws upon recent observations in the discussion of healthcare and construction to emphasize the broader implications and lessons in management practices across all services and industries.
Overprotection in Healthcare. The healthcare sector's predicament, where excessive caution potentially hinders the adoption of life-saving innovations, serves as a poignant reminder of what's at stake when risk aversion overshadows progressive thinking. Dr. X, a healthcare policy expert, highlights a growing concern: "While patient safety must always be our top priority, excessive risk aversion is slowing down the adoption of potentially life-saving technolgies and treatments. The lengthy approval processes and the fear of litigation are discouraging healthcare providers and researchers from pursuing innovative solutions." Consider as a gruesome example, the former institutionization of people with developmental disabilites served to retard their development.
Overregulation of Construction. The construction industry faces a similar challenge, as overregulation not only escalates costs and delays but also impacts community development and well-being. Government construction projects routinely feature runaway costs HERE and HERE Phillip Cross wrote an inciteful column for the Financial Post entitled, “Why governments keep screwing up major infrastructure projects”. As Cross put it, “Prominent studies of domestic and international public infrastructure projects found cost overruns averaged between 45 and 86 percent.” Why? In Cross’s view, a big part of the problem is that “public projects suffer from a lack of accountability. Governments evaluate projects not according to the performance-based criteria of the private sector, but by their conformity to rules and processes.” Layers of bureaucracy and the fear of potential hazards - over-regulation, also make it increasingly difficult to complete projects on time, on spec, and on budget. This not only affects project costs but also the communities waiting on these critical infrastructure projects.
These scenarios underscore a common theme: the need for a nuanced approach to managing risk that fosters both safety and innovation. - continued below.
George Jergeas has over 45 years of experience in Project Management in industry and academia. He holds an MSc and PhD in Construction Project Management from Loughborough University, UK. Formerly a Professor at the University of Calgary, and he now serves as Professor Emeritus of Project Management. George specializes in project governance, team building, project management training, dispute resolution, project planning, and risk management. His methods have significantly impacted over 200 projects, enhancing their success and efficiency.
George has researched cost overruns in Alberta's mega projects and has consulted widely across North America, Asia, and Europe. He has appeared as an Expert Witness in major inquiries like the Muskrat Falls project and mediated construction disputes in Alberta. Currently, he provides oversight for an Eastern Canadian mega project and acts as an expert witness in Western Canada.
He is the author of several books: Risk Navigation Strategies for Major Capital Projects: Beyond the Myth of Predictability (LINK), Benevolent Dictatorship for Major Capital Projects (LINK), Power Risk and Opportunity Management. An Owners’s Perspective (LINK) and Evolving Toolbox for Complex Project Management – Contributor to the legal chapter (LINK)
INDUSTRIAL HEMP Conference
There will be no webinar Thursday February 22nd as I will be attending THE FUTURE IS HERE - as Master of Ceremories of the Alberta Hemp Alliance's Annual Industrial Hemp Conference at the Edmonton International Airport FOR MORE. Let me know if you have an interest in attending as I have a few passes yet available. - Editor@KEInetwork.net
The Paradox continued ...
Managing means Balancing Risk. Risk management, by its very nature, involves navigating the uncertain waters between potential loss and gain, risks and rewards. However, when the scales tip too far towards avoidance, the cost can be measured not just in missed opportunities but in the stagnation of growth and development. The key is to cultivate a dynamic risk management strategy that is both adaptive and proportional to the actual risks at hand.
Riskless Undermines Innovation. A more flexible approach to risk assessment and mitigation can encourage innovation - a contributor to productivity, while still safeguarding against genuine threats. Canada is challenging businesses to step up tro reverse Canada's concerning decline in productivity HERE (Note. One can only hope that the Federal Government in it's own project management will lead the way. - Editor) This requires not only investment but a shift in project mangement from a one-size-fits-all mentality to a more tailored approach, where the nuances of each situation are carefully considered. Engaging in open dialogues among industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and the public, can also pave the way for more balanced frameworks that accommodate both growth and safety.
As we reflect on these messages it becomes clear that managing risk effectively is not about eliminating risk altogether but about finding the right equilibrium. By embracing a balanced approach to risk management, we can unlock the door to innovation, efficiency, and ultimately, progress and reversing the decline in productivity. - Editor@KEInetwork.net with assistance
CRITICAL THINKING - Just ask questions
HOMELESSNESS. Homelessness in Edmonton appears resolved once encampments were cleared and personal service centers established. HERE THINK ... is the impact sustainable and replicable elsewhere? Where else has an interagency authority been established for coordinating Case Work services and Community Resource Development?
HEATHCARE. Continued developments in genomics HERE and cellular therapy HERE can impact regeneration and life saving and extending capabilities - advancing personalized medicine and revolutionizing healthcare. HERE THINK ... is Canada over-regulating healthcare impeding innovation and the development of more precise, personalized medicine? Is there a market for life extension? One day at a time? How many years?
MENTAL ILLNESS. Personal resilience among youth is warranted to counter the rise of mental illness in children overwhelmed by fear. HERE THINK ... are we - the public and parents, over-protecting and/or just not available, leaving children without adequate resilience for addressing social conflict and ultimately adulthood? HERE
PARENTING. The family has been changing and coming under public scrutiny as an effective contributor to child development. HERE THINK ... is AI an impediment or an aide to families in parenting? HERE Will AI help in freeing up portions of the labour force - for parenting children? If so what are the incentives? HERE
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Competition in knowledge management is increasing - Google just released Gemini HERE and AI may displace the need for humans in coding HERE THINK ... should governments step in to slow down the ever-increasing rate of change driven by AI? Will market forces be adequate to contain the threats of misinformation - on elections for example, and the impct of AI going rogue?
ENERGY AND THE ECONOMY. The spectacular and worldwide boom in social and economic development is attributed to the transition to fossil fuels for energy. HERE THINK ... should governments slow down their rush to Net Zero? Will the pending emergence of fusion energy reverse climate change and fuel a similar socio-economic boom? Are we ready for the transition?
DEBT. Debt grew during the Covid pandemic exacerbated by inflation and the sustained increase in interest rates. HERE THINK ... is there an ultimate limit to debt and/or an event that might trigger a debt crisis?
PRODUCTIVITY. Canada's labour force is shrinking and its productivity has turned negative - while the US marches on. HERE THINK ... is Canada's quality of life and capacity to maintain it's social welfare net for an aging population at risk?
NATIONAL TID BITS
Driving to Net Zero may be more bluster than bite. In November, the U.S. imported 4.36 million barrels of Canadian crude oil per day, surpassing previous records set in 2019. This trade pattern has made Canada the source of 63% of U.S. crude imports.
Serving the EV market. Canada has surpassed China as the top jurisdiction for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.
Housing costs are spirilling. The Bank of Canada expects shelter inflation to represent 50% of total inflation over the next 2 years; double its 26% weight in the Consumer Price Index.
Migration as an indicator of a nation's viability. Japan is addressing it's declining birth rate, shrinking workforce, and aging population through immigration. It's foreign worker population reached a record 2,040,000 in the last year, a 12.4% Y/Y increase. It will need 6.74 million foreign workers in 2040 to meet its growth targets. Vietnamese immigrants make up 25.3% of the total foreign worker population. The employment rate of people aged 65+ in Japan was at 25.2% in 2023.
The US debt watch - of concern. Net interest payments on the U.S. debt are projected to rise to 3.1% of GDP in 2025, the highest level since records began in 1940.
Reference: National Bank Angus Watt Advisory Group
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