440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

February 21, 2000

03 00050 61 00022101

Ms. Julia Harms
Professional Education Associate Manager
Marketing and Student Services
Stanford Center for Professional Development
Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA Zip

Subject:   Advanced PM Certificate

Dear Julia,

Thanks for your letter on February 17 explaining the education opportunity SCPD is offering on project management.

Cal Tech presented an advanced PM course in 1992 that reviewed the Columbia Space Shuttle failure in 1986. A follow on class in 1997 presented a detailed study of JPL, NASA and contractor communications, which confirmed prior findings that the Columbia Shuttle failed because minor, innocuous communication was not aligned with requirements. In another example, a $500M ship sank at sea because communication failed, presented by the Project Management Institute in 1994.

More recently NASA reported on October 1, 1999 that a space probe crashed into Mars, rather than enter the planned orbit, because communication was not aligned with requirements. $125M loss. On December 7, 1999 President Clinton announced a national initiative to reduce the high cost of medical mistakes. Earlier on June 25, 1999 doctors do not have time to follow communication procedures set out in their published policies. Projects to fix your foot, eye, heart... are governed by the same processes being taught in your advanced program. Yet a study reported on December 21, 1999 found that patients are not adequately informed by doctors in nine out of 10 decisions. Where is the call for doctors to learn the secretes of good project management? Also, on June 25, 1999 Forbes magazine reported that CEOs don't execute good practices either. The practice found to have the most impact on success was not strategic vision, nor other lofty pursuits of team building, arranging the organization chart, sending email and riding the corporate jet. Failure is occurring because, like rest of us, CEOs don't want to align communication. Forbes chalks this up to psyche. They say its boring and no fun, probably like this letter.

Your course syllabus says participants will learn to align strategy with priorities and resources.

How though is the course addressing the biggest risk in enterprise?


Every call, every meeting, every email sows the seeds of meaning drift. What strategy, process, practice or procedure can arrest this modern scourge that suddenly plagues our best and brightest from the boardroom, to the operating room, to classroom?



Rod Welch