Project starts and signoffs: lessons from the Costa Concordia cruise tragedy

The Costa Concordia Cruise tragedy is horrendous. That the captain might have wanted to please  the head waiter , who comes from Giglio, by going too near the shore is inexplicable.

Particularly for the hapless passengers on the cruise. It's one thing, if you are on a small boat alone, its entirely different if there are thousands of passengers and a booming global cruise industry: that never really forgets the Titanic.

Bringing a ship to dock is metaphorically very similar to project sign offs- just as the "set sail" maritime  similie is  often  used when starting off a project.  Here are some key take aways for leaders and managers from the Costa Concordia tragedy and the conduct of its Captain  Francesco Schettino:

  1. Think  Sully Sullenberger and his great leadership as Captain of the US Airways flight 1549 that lost engine power and landed on the Hudson river with no injuries or loss of life. Lesson: Captain takes full charge in case something goes wrong,unexpectedly.
  2. Airplanes can be on auto-pilot when the weather is fine and the plane is in flight. Pilots manage take-offs and landings personally. Just as you'd put your car on cruise control  only when the highway is clear. Lesson: Project starts are like take-offs and project signoffs are hand-offs to the client and the project leader must be personally involved. Just a good hand-off builds loads of B2B satisfaction. 
  3. Never show lack of discipline ( as Captain  Francesco Schettino) during the project sign-off phase. In other words, the project ending phase is like an aircraft landing and needs rigid adherence to protocol and process.Lesson: Follow established protocol and process during project starts and signoffs.

Let us hope that the passengers and their families  of the Costa Concordia are able to overcome this needless tragedy.