The importance of what is at stake in megaprojects

the case of MOSE investment to protect Venice


Maria Cristina Barbero, MBA, PMI-ACP, PMP

Head of Change & IT Strategy Business Unit, Nexen Business Consultants

Hermes Redi, MBA, Ingegnere

General Manager, Consorzio Venezia Nuova

Megaprojects are large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost US$1 billion or more, take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, are transformational, and impact millions of people.

The paper intends to present a research made on available literature, mainly from the Project Management Institute (PMI), about the most relevant characteristics of megaprojects around the world and the drivers of the megaproject boom we are witnessing. Megaprojects attract decision makers because of the so-called “four sublimes:” the technological one that's about the excitement of engineers and technologists for the newest solutions and products; the political one that's the transport of politicians to build something that lasts over time; the economic one that's the satisfaction of the most the stakeholders in making lots of money and bringing lots of jobs from megaprojects; and lastly, the aesthetic one that's the pleasure of designing and building something iconic and beautiful and giving it to posterity (Flyvbjerg, 2014).

The “break-and-fix” model is often recognizable. Generally, megaproject planners and managers do not know how to deliver successful megaprojects and, therefore, such projects tend to “break” sooner or later. For example, for optimistic or manipulated estimates of schedule, costs, or benefits, projects are then often paused and reorganized—sometimes also refinanced—in an attempt to “fix” problems.

This paper intends to tell the story of the Italian MOSE (the name MOSE or more simply “Mose” comes from MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, Experimental Electromechanical Module) megaproject, which recognizes the four sublimes in it, makes some comments on both the “break” it experienced and the “fix” of some problems which were there; and exploits this story to propose to the worldwide community of project managers, to add to the still-developing megaproject management discipline, some successful practices herein described. The main lesson is that megaprojects can “be fixed” and survive only when stakeholders recognize a high value at stake and are deeply motivated to strive for that value.

Besides introducing megaproject management theories and explaining these lessons, there is the wish of delivering to PMI Global Congress 2015—EMEA congress attendees, the overview of the MOSE megaproject that is going to help ensure future life to Venice treasures.

Companies Presentation

Nexen Business Consultants has been listed in PMI's Consultant Registry since 2011. Nexen Business Consultants is the consulting company of Engineering ( Engineering owns 100% of Nexen.

Engineering is a 7,500-employee Italian company with €800 million in revenue. It is organized into directorates which serve different industries. Within Engineering, the competences Nexen grows and takes care of include: (a) strategy and financial advisory; (b) enterprise governance and risk management frameworks and accounting systems; (c) business process management and reengineering; (d) project management and change management; and (e) IT governance and strategy. Nexen is internally organized by competence, and each competence business unit is led by a director who coordinates his or her team's efforts with other business units to best serve customers. Over the last seven years, focusing on change and project management competences, Nexen has built a 25-person team specializing in the project management discipline that offers its customers different kinds of services: (a) project management office (PMO) teams supporting projects—traditional and agile; (b) PMO teams supporting divisions or directorates—traditional; (c) virtual PMO and project manager communities; (d) enterprise project portfolios initialization and management; (e) certified project managers; (f) consulting services in project and program management and in organizational project management; and (g) training services and preparation for Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) certification.

Consorzio Venezia Nuova is the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport - Venice Water Authority concessionary for work to safeguard Venice and the lagoon delegated by the state, in implementation of Law no. 798/84. It is made up of major Italian construction companies and local cooperatives and firms. The aim of this vast programme of interventions, which has been carried out for many years now, is to protect Venice against high waters and sea storms and safeguard the lagoon ecosystem environment.

As the body responsible for implementing activities to safeguard Venice and the lagoon delegated by the state, the Consorzio Venezia Nuova works through Conventions—contracts signed with the granting administration—on the basis of a general plan of interventions divided into separate, but interconnected, lines of action: (a) defense from high waters; (b) defense from sea storms; and (c) environmental defense. At the heart of this important environmental programme taken on by the state, there is the MOSE System mobile barriers, commenced in 2003, which will definitively secure Venice and the entire lagoon area from high waters and the ever-present risk of a catastrophic event such as that of 1966.

Part I: The Management of Megaprojects

Even though there is a generalized awareness of the substantial difference between traditional project management practices and the management of megaprojects, a consolidated body of knowledge about the management of megaprojects is not still available. In this first part of the paper, we wish to share with readers a brief research on this subject matter.

Project-based Large Organizations Point of View

Accenture - 2012

In the Accenture presentation of its global survey of the metals and mining industries titled Achieving Superior Delivery of Capital Projects, we find some interesting consideration about “capital projects” and “capital projects investments.” The following is a commented summary.

Projects are growing in scale and complexity, based on geological factors, the remoteness of project sites, limited available talent, construction labor constraints, and increasing infrastructure requirements. This unprecedented scale, along with the innate complexity of capital projects in the mining and metals industries, leads to the question: How can capital projects’ delivery be improved? To answer this question, Accenture interviewed executives from these industries about key challenges and methods to improve outcomes. The survey came out with five recommendations which identify the key areas to improve effective capital project delivery. These key areas should meet cost and schedule demands, reduce risks, and boost returns on investment (ROI).

They are summarized below.

  1. Establish strong project governance and risk management tools.

  2. Proactively manage external stakeholders’ increasing expectations for sustainability.

  3. Optimize scarce talent through portfolio management, organizational flexibility, and training.

  4. Integrate information systems among capital projects players.

  5. Accelerate operational readiness.

Throughout the project life cycle, keep the end objective in mind. Comprehensive approaches are required to manage the increasing scale and complexity of capital projects. The traditional project management focus needs to be broadened well beyond aspects of engineering and procurement. Today's projects call for increased focus on governance, human capital strategy, and integrating information systems with business partners and operations.

KPMG - 2013

The KPMG study titled How to Successfully Manage your Mega-project:Early Planning and Organizing for Success drives to some interesting considerations and guidelines to follow. Construction “megaprojects” live up to their reputations in many ways, including mega-size, mega-cost, mega-complexity, and mega-risk. When things go awry, mega-cost and schedule overruns can also occur (2013).

Effective management of megaprojects relies on three key concepts: (a) early planning and organizing; (b) stakeholder communication and project controls integration; and (c) continuous improvement. In its document, KPMG's Engineering & Construction practice offers eight best practices for early planning and organizing of your mega-project:

1 – Assign the project team early

2 – Choose the right project delivery strategy

3 – Develop realistic estimates

4 – Actively manage project risks

5 – Obtain senior management buy-in

6 – Develop project-specific policies and procedures

7 – Assign project-specific roles and responsibilities

8 – Have frequent team meetings

The conclusion is that you can't manage a megaproject simply by drawing on industry experience, following project management principles, and applying technology. A successful megaproject is the result, in part, of an effective planning and organizing effort. That's the first key concept, and it encompasses team assignment, delivery strategy, estimating, risk management, buy-in from leadership, policies and procedures, assigning roles, and conducting effective meetings (Gilge & Kagan, 2013).

ENI - 2014

In their paper, Managing the Complexity of Engineering Interfaces through eCollaboration, Piantanida, Cognini, Mancarella, and Gaudioso launched the idea of a structured Interface Management “knowledge area” (2014). Piantanida is a project manager for ENI, a major, Italian, integrated energy company committed to growth in the activities of finding, producing, transporting, transforming, and marketing oil and gas.

Megaprojects’ Interface Management is aiming to (a) coordinate the execution of a number of different contracts, all contributing to the overall scope of work of the megaproject; and (b) ensure that all the interfaces between contractors are timely identified, documented, acknowledged, executed, and controlled.

Interface issues are recognized as being responsible for up to 20% of total installation costs.

European Union - Megaproject -

The European Union “Megaproject” initiative has a main objective that “is to understand how megaprojects can be designed and delivered more effectively to ensure their effective commissioning within the European Union.” It aims to contribute to the development of methodology and best practices of megaproject management.

The secondary objectives are “(a) To conduct a ‘meta’ cross-case analysis of groups of megaprojects delivered within Europe and to identify common thematic issues relating to megaproject design and delivery from across the disciplinary spectrum. (b) To categorise those thematic issues into those issues for which sufficient evidence exists to make immediate policy and practice recommendations and those issues which require further research.(c) To produce a 'state of the art’ series of guidelines for key issues surrounding the effective design and delivery of megaprojects. (d) To produce a research agenda that is made accessible to key.”

The four streams of a megaproject's work are:

The INNOMET (Innovation and Methodology) working group will adopt, develop, and test some new methodologies developed from Megaproject's work so far using the existing Megaproject portfolio to derive some robust scientific evidence. It also aims to validate Megaproject's new experience-based approach to research as a gold standard in project management.

The MES (Managing External Stakeholders) working group is collecting, analysing, and classifying relevant stakeholders from the Megaproject portfolio and looking at their influence in projects, including their response strategies and their impact on project performance.

The RFE (Risk at the Front End) working group will look within the Megaproject portfolio at what the common experience is of risk in megaprojects, how risk at the front end of megaprojects differs from other (non-mega) projects, and the possible ways of dealing it.

The SPE (Special Project Entities) working group is is investigating what influence a joint venture/consortium created specifically for the project has on the final delivery. It will examine the issues surrounding the establishment and governance of SPEs in projects and demonstrate commonalities and learning points in the creation of SPEs by grouping together experiences from the Megaproject portfolio.

Project Management Institute point of view

PM Network March 2011

The cover of the March 2011 issue of PM Network asks, “Too Big to Handle? Megaprojects and meeting the triple constraints.” The initial question the inside article works on is, “Do the sheer size and scope of public megaprojects doom them to fail?”

With this article, PMI shifts attention to leadership. Patricia D. Galloway, PhD, PMP, CEO of Pegasus Global Holdings Inc., says in the article, “Megaprojects require a strong leader who can bring all of the stakeholders to the table and ensure that risk management addresses all of their conflicting needs” (Fister Gale, 2011).

Successful execution of a megaproject takes the guidance of a strong project leader with just the right mix of experience, authority, and charisma. Not every project manager has the right stuff. “You can do formal training all day long, but megaproject leaders need on-the-job experience and mentoring,” says Craig Connell, vice president and director of the corporate project management office for Black & Veatch, a global engineering, construction, and consulting firm in Kansas City, Missouri. “They've got to be able to manage dozens of stakeholders: clients, contractors, sub-contractors, and partners. If you can't handle that and control stakeholder expectations, you won't be a good megaproject manager.” To better groom its future megaproject managers, Black & Veatch developed project leadership courses and mentoring programs, along with a career path aimed at offering opportunities to lead steadily larger initiatives.

Project Management Journal April-May 2014

In the April/May 2014 issue of Project Management Journal, the first article, “What You Should Know About Megaprojects and Why: An Overview,” Bent Flyvbjerg said, “Business School, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom—is fully dedicated to megaprojects management and is the most comprehensive text we ever had the opportunity to read on this specific topic.”

Megaprojects are large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost US$1 billion or more, take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, are transformational, and impact millions of people. Hirschman (1995, vii, xi) calls such projects “privileged particles of the development process” and points out that often they are “trait making;” in other words, they are designed to ambitiously change the structure of society, as opposed to smaller and more conventional projects that are “trait taking;” that is, they fit into pre-existing structures and do not attempt to modify them. Megaprojects, therefore, are not just magnified versions of smaller projects. Megaprojects are a completely different breed of project in terms of their level of aspiration, lead times, complexity, and stakeholder involvement. Consequently, they are also a very different type of project to manage.

Examples of megaprojects are high-speed rail lines, airports, seaports, motorways, hospitals, national health or pension information, communication technology (ICT) systems, national broadband, the Olympics, large-scale signature architecture, dams, wind farms, offshore oil and gas extraction, aluminum smelters, the development of new aircraft, the largest container and cruise ships, high-energy particle accelerators, and the logistics systems used to run large supply chain–based companies like Amazon and Maersk.

Flyvbjerg's article underlines that megaprojects attract decision makers because of the so-called “four sublimes:” the technological one that's about the excitement of engineers and technologists for the newest solutions and products, the political one that's the transport of politicians to build something that lasts over time, the economic one that's the satisfaction of/for most the stakeholders in making lots of money and jobs from megaprojects, and lastly the aesthetic one, that's the pleasure of designing and building something iconic and beautiful and giving it to posterity. These four sublimes require adequate management and attention and impose project managers to have strong leadership skills and solid managerial abilities.

“Nine out of ten such projects have cost overruns; overruns of up to 50% in real terms are common, over 50% are not.”

“Delays are a separate problem for megaprojects and they cause both cost overruns and benefit shortfalls. For example, preliminary results from a study undertaken at Oxford University, based on the largest database of its kind, suggest that delays on dams are 45% on average.”

“Success in megaproject management is typically defined as projects being delivered on budget, on time, and with the promised benefits. If, as the evidence indicates, approximately one out of ten megaprojects is on budget, one out of ten is on schedule, and one out of ten delivers the promised benefits, then approximately one in one thousand projects is a success, defined as “on target” for all three. Even if the numbers were wrong by a factor of two—so that two, instead of one out of ten projects were on target for cost, schedule, and benefits, respectively— the success rate would still be dismal, now eight in one thousand. This serves to illustrate what may be called the “iron law of megaprojects: Over budget, over time, over and over again” (Flyvbjerg, 2011).

Caption 1: Iron law of megaprojects.

The “break-and-fix” model is often recognizable: generally megaproject planners and managers do not know how to deliver successful megaprojects and, therefore, such projects tend to “break” sooner or later. For example, for optimistic or manipulated estimates of schedule, costs, or benefits, projects are then often paused and reorganized—sometimes also refinanced—in an attempt to “fix” problems.

Fortunately, signs of improvement in megaproject management have recently appeared. The tacit consensus that misrepresentation is an acceptable business model for project development is under attack. Shortly after taking office, U.S. President Barack Obama openly identified “the costly overruns, the fraud and abuse, the endless excuses” in public procurement for major projects as key policy problems (White House, 2009). A more material driver of improvement is the fact that the largest projects are now so big and consequential in relation to individual businesses and agencies that cost overruns, benefit shortfalls, and risks from even a single project may bring down executives and whole corporations. Other news is that in 2012, the Authority established, in collaboration with Oxford University, a Major Projects Leadership Academy—the first of its kind in the world—to train and authorize all UK civil servants in charge of central government major projects.

Finally, research on how to reform megaproject management is beginning to positively impact practice. Such research has recently made great strides in better understanding what causes the many failures in megaproject delivery and how to avoid them.

The following part of this paper is dedicated to bringing readers some considerations on how the Italian MOSE megaproject experience can contribute to the reforming of megaproject management.

Part II: The MOSE Project to Safeguard Venice and its Lagoon

“Acqua alta” Phenomenon

“Acqua alta,” translated to high water, is a phenomenon which generally takes place in Venice in winter time, when a combination of astronomical tide, strong south wind (scirocco), and - the periodic movement of sea waters (seiche), causes a sort of long wave which washes all Adriatic coasts and can cause a larger inflow of water into Venice City and the Venetian Lagoon.

Further, two larger phenomena also contribute to increasing the water level: (a) eustasy - fluctuation of sea levels, caused by global climate change - and (b) the subsidence of the Venetian Lagoon, which, together, have caused an altimetry loss of about 26 centimetres in the last century.


Figure 1: Pictures of Venice with “acqua alta.”

High waters compromise functioning of the city, are a source of serious inconvenience for the population and businesses, and cause the slow, but inexorable degradation of the artistic and architectural heritage. Flow-back of the water after submersion is particularly serious as it carries with it, material from the foundations of the quaysides, forming empty areas which are then further demolished by the action of wave motion and wash.

High waters make ground floors unusable, hinder access to houses, and, through saline rise, attack walls not protected by Istrian stone, now too low with respect to the water level.

The MOSE Megaproject

The MOSE Megaproject to Save Venice

MOSE is a vast integrated plan of interventions implemented by the Italian state through the Consorzio Venezia Nuova. The system of interventions combines physical protection of urban areas with environmental recovery of the entire Venice lagoon extending for 550 square kilometres, with mobile flood protection barriers at the heart.

These barriers consist of rows of mobile modular gates constructed at the lagoon inlets, the gaps connecting the lagoon with the Adriatic Sea. When inactive, the gates are full of water and completely invisible, resting in housing structures in the seabed. They enter into operation to temporarily prevent the tide from entering the lagoon when a high tide, potentially causing floods, is forecast. They remain operative for the duration of the damaging high tide event—four hours on average. When the tide drops and the sea and lagoon return to the same level, the gates are filled with water again and vanish back into the housing structures.

There are four tide barriers: two at the Lido inlet, one at Malamocco, and one at Chioggia, with a total of 78 mobile gates. At each inlet, there will be a structure to allow the transit of vessels and continuity of port activities, even when the MOSE gates are in operation to prevent a high tide.

The MOSE System shall be able to protect the entire ecosystem of the lagoon and its urban areas during the next decades, even if the sea level rises significantly. The mobile barriers are necessary today and shall be even more so during the next decades in light of the expected rise in sea level.

The project also represents the result of in-depth dialogue and concerted on-going and productive action involving several stakeholders: other organizations, authorities, and institutions which have become an integral part of the defence solution, in the form of a marine and environmental engineering project.

The Imposed Strong Constraints

The MOSE megaproject is based on precise strategies and criteria that emerged during the long legislative and political process leading to definition of the interventions. Some constraints were imposed:

The high water defence system must not significantly modify flushing through the lagoon inlets and must not interfere with the landscape or local economic activities.

Overall, the response identified led to the identification of a solution which allows Venice and other urban areas in the lagoon to be definitively protected from high waters, including devastating events, in respect of the hydrological and morphological balance of the lagoon ecosystem.

The story of MOSE began immediately after the terrible flood of 4 November 1966, when Venice was flooded by a meter of water and the historic coastal defences, the “Murazzi” sea walls, were completely destroyed by the destructive force of the sea, making the Italian state aware of the danger facing the fragile ecosystem of the Venice lagoon.

Three special laws defined the principles and cornerstones of the safeguarding action: from its undelayable and urgent nature (171/73) to the need for a coordinated, systemic action given the vast scale and heterogeneous nature of the problems to be tackled (798/84) and, finally, a definition of the way of working, with reference to the General Plan of Interventions (139/92).

Together, the conditions, factors, and problems to be tackled and requiring a response (with measures which Law no. 171/73 described as “of public utility, urgent, and undelayable”) made the “Venice Question” unique and extraordinary, to be considered with a completely new and systemic approach to analysis of the problems, study of the solutions, planning of activities, realisation, and management of the measures and structures and coordination between the institutions involved.

The extraordinary nature of the concession, and thus, of the work of the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, reflects the extraordinary nature of the “Venice Question” (as endorsed by the Special Legislation) and the distinctive and unique characteristics of the lagoon ecosystem.

Caption 2: History and facts.

MOSE Megaproject Governance Through Consorzio Venezia Nuova

The work of Consorzio Venezia Nuova has allowed the hydraulic and environmental engineering interventions to be programmed and coordinated in time and space, guaranteeing continuity and coherence in respect of the identity and integrity of the ecosystem in which the project is being implemented.

It has also made it possible to guarantee development of the planning and subsequent implementation of the measures and continuity, in particular, of the MOSE mobile tide defence barriers.

The Consorzio Venezia Nuova is giving Italy an important experience, together with knowledge of the local area and how to protect it. The lagoon is, today, a restored revitalised environment, with enhanced biodiversity and improved water quality. It has also become the point of reference of an important experience in managing a complex system and acquisition of a vast body of geographical information.

Megaproject Schedule

What follows intends to bring readers some general info about the MOSE megaproject schedule.

In the diagram, “Iter Approvativo del progetto delle opere di regolazione dei flussi di marea alle bocche di porto lagunari,” are synthesized as both the preliminary design and final design, and the major events that have affected their preparation: laws, signing of contract documents, approvals, “VIA” + request for further details. This phase stretched from the beginning until the validation of the final design and the start of work and excerpts of works aiming to regulate the tides.


Figure 2: Project preparation macro schedule.


Figure 3: Macro schedule of the MOSE project.

The diagram “Timetable of the MOSE system” is the high level schedule of the project, indicating the completion of both the works of adjustment of the tides (divided by the mouth of the harbor), plus the implementation of all other measures that compose the “MOSE System:” activities aiming to support the start of the project and the activation of regulations required by third parties, as well as monitoring and controlling activities and compensation interventions required by the European Community.

For every month, the WBS and main project activities are summarized together with some major milestones. The date of 31-Dec-2017 is planned to be the date of initiation of the start phase of the work of adjustment of the tides. The work of adjustment of the tides began in 2004 as shown in the diagram. In this diagram we represent the calendar from 2013.

In particular, there were two moments which could be described as “break and fix” and which, resulted in a complete change of approach.

The first occurred in 2002 when, following opening of infringement proceedings, the E.U. Commission decided to verify the compatibility of assigning the work to the Consorzio Venezia Nuova in light of recent supranational regulations. While confirming the compatibility of the concession to the Consorzio, it requested that part of the work be considered as no longer characterised by the originality and “experimentability,” which had represented the precondition for granting the concession be put out to international tender.

The second came in 2005, when the state imposed establishment of a definite and certain cost for the project to avoid proceeding in the uncertainty of payment on a time and materials basis. A “fixed price” contract was thus signed between the concessionary and the state, establishing the final price for the project at € 5,493 million and establishing a schedule according to a complex and definite flow of funding.

Lesson Learnt

This final section is dedicated to lesson learnt

The approval procedure for the mobile barriers was long, in-depth, and complex. There were a number of standstills and moments of strong opposition (political and ideological). The presence of the Consorzio, and thus, of a single reference body, made it possible to overcome the difficulties, not just from a strictly business point of view, but also in terms of motivating the team to share in the challenge to achieve the objective. The existence of a strong, clearly-defined organisation, therefore, facilitated development and implementation of the project, now largely completed.

In an economic and programming context, it is also worth highlighting the fact that MOSE is one of the strategic projects included in the so-called “Legge Obiettivo” in 2001 and financed by the CIPE - Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning - with the funds set aside in instalments. Over the years, partly in correlation with the adverse economic conditions, the flow of financing has been intermittent and less than expected. The Consorzio Venezia Nuova has nevertheless managed to guarantee the continuity of work at all times without interruptions, even in the absence of new financing, by drawing on bridging loans and programming the work in relation to the financing.

MOSE has been characterised by strong governance capable of organising and guiding the work, keeping the team united and guaranteeing implementation of the project in a unitary fashion, despite numerous moments of “crisis” which seemed to call progress into question.

Part III: MOSE Contribution to International Best Practice and Conclusion

There are three practices we can extrapolate from the long and lively story of the MOSE project and bring to the international community of project managers.

Practice 1: Create a network of partners motivated by the interest in developing the business in the megaproject area: they must be involved in building and shaping their future in the region. That's one of the most important aspects at stake.

The Territorial Network (of companies)

The Consortium is formed by both national and local companies. The main reason why the national component is there is the “enterprise capacity;” while the local knowledge and capacity is essential for specific interventions in the territory, it is required to operate in a very fragile, unique, and complex corner of the world, the Venice lagoon, where the working methods are really special.

LessonsInvolve local businesses in your megaproject as suppliers, as well as partners. Do not work with large organizations only, or better, seek the right balance between large international companies with the required experience and knowledge, and the networks of local companies. Local companies are strongly motivated to strengthen their presence and business in the area.

Practice 2: Base your leadership on leveraging the value the megaproject brings citizens and other stakeholders and underlining what is at stake with the success of the initiative. In this case, the safeguarding of Venice.

In the Accenture study, we read, “Throughout the project life cycle, keep the end objective in mind.” We can add to that, “…and the value at stake in mind.”

The Strength of the Message

The value at stake for the MOSE project was the defense of Venice and its lagoon from high waters—a city and a priceless ecosystem symbol for humanity. This fact has represented a strong point because Venetians and all Italians recognize the importance of participating in the salvation of Venice. So there was availability on the part of the country for the expense of safeguarding this city, a common asset firstly, and a location that is central to its country identity. The presence of a subject – Consorzio Venezia Nuova—whose only mission was the realization of the work, over time has carried on the message with great conviction and determination, that the project was and is essential.

LessonsEffectively communicate what the megaproject is for and what is at stake for both the worldwide and local communities. When problems arise and it seems that politics are stopping or blocking activities for several reasons, the anchor is: believe in what you are doing and communicate the importance of what you are doing.

Practice 3: Adopt personalized and lean procurement processes to fasten the process of selecting suppliers and assigning work to the companies which are part of the “Consorzio.”

Actions Unity and Coherence

The presence of a single subject—Consorzio Venezia Nuova—allowed for acting in a coordinated and consistent way since the beginning. The action plan for the preservation of Venice and its lagoon covered a very large and complex area (550 km2) and required skills from different subjects, even when there was conflict among them (known degradation matters). Thereforethe action of the Consortium was important to coordinate the study and planning of an integrated, consistent solution to the Venice problem.

Finally, the Consortium has overcome many crises, thanks to its leadership on the whole operation.

LessonsProcurement activities are usually and traditionally based on bids, RFPs, and RFQs for every part of work and service that has to be bought. The aim is transparency. In our experience in Consorzio Venezia Nuova, we adopted a model where we have chosen to protect “continuity” beside “transparency.” We did that by trying to outsource or assign pieces of work to the same supplier tht we thought they could do better. We worked on a strict monitoring on both suppliers, and the quality of work they were in charge of, instead of pushing a re-evaluation of suppliers for any purchase.


Fister, G. S.(2011, March). Bigger is not always better. PM Network, 25 (3) 52–56.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2014). What you should know about megaprojects and why: An overview. Project Management Journal, 45(2)6–19.

Gilge, C. & Kagan, J.. (2013, September). How to successfully manage your mega-project: Early planning and organizing for success. KPMG Consulting.

Hirschman, A.O. (1995). Development projects observed (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.

Piantanida, M.,Cognini, G.,Mancarella, M.,& Gaudioso, G. (2014, May). Managing the complexity of engineering interfaces through eCollaboration. PMI Global Congress 2014, Dubai, UAE.

Suárez, J, Callahan, A., & Lichenstein, J. (2012, November 22). Achieving superior delivery of capital projects. Accenture Global Survey of the Metals and Mining Industries. Accenture.

© 2015, Maria Cristina Barbero, Hermes Redi,
Originally published as a part of the 2015 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – London, UK



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