Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 30;   July 28, 2004: Films Not About Project Teams: I
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Films Not About Project Teams: I

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Here's part one of a list of films and videos about project teams that weren't necessarily meant to be about project teams. Most are available to borrow from the public library, and all are great fun.

People who work together in teams face challenges that go beyond the problem to be solved, and even beyond the technologies employed to solve that problem. They must work together under conditions ranging from calm to crisis. But because people have been working together as long as there have been people, we can learn how to work on projects from almost any story of people.

For learning about
project management,
film is probably
the best thing
next to actual experience
Film can help. Here's Part One of a list of some of my favorites. All of them have something to say to those of us who work on projects. And check out Part Two of this list.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre
A study of scope creep and team dynamics. Humphrey Bogart's "Dobbs" gives us insight into one particular source of scope creep — ambition. The team dynamics that develop as a consequence of Dobbs's greed are often mirrored in project teams. Director: John Huston. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston. 1948. DVD: 126 min. Order from Amazon.com.
Apollo 13
Watch and learn how Ed Harris's Gene Kranz, flight director, makes the right decisions to lead the team back from the brink of disaster. We also see team dynamics under extreme stress, both in the capsule and on the ground, and good examples of CYA and state-of-the-art group problem solving. Director: Ron Howard. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon. 1995. DVD: 140 min. Order from Amazon.com.
NOVA: Super Bridge
Apollo 13 Shoulder Patch

Apollo 13 Shoulder Patch
Courtesy NASA.

Mutiny on the Bounty
Make your project plan carefully, and don't bet on things working the way you want them to. Captain Bligh went for the gold, and ended up losing — he had to backtrack from Cape Horn, lost a year, and then tried to make up the schedule on the backs of the crew. A study in managing by force vs. leadership. Director: Frank Lloyd. Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone. 1935. DVD: 132 min. Order from Amazon.com.
Defending Your Life
An example of how not to run a project retrospective. Director: Albert Brooks. Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep. 1991. DVD: 112 min. Order from Amazon.com.
The Last Place on Earth
Originally produced for US Public Television's Masterpiece Theater, this story of the race to the South Pole between two expeditions led by Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen is based on the masterwork of the same name by Roland Huntford. When viewed as a case study in project management, it explores the issues of focus, risk management, conventional wisdom, science, and innovation. Dir. Ferdinand Fairfax. Martin Shaw, Sverre Anker Ousdal. 1984. DVD: 396 min. Order from Amazon.com. Or read the book.

If you look at just one of these per month, you'll be busy for half a year. Do you have favorites of your own? Send them along! Next in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Some Truths About Lies: I  Next Issue

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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

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When suppliers have a customer orientation, we can usually depend on them. But government suppliers are a special case. Available here and by RSS on May 31.
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The Knowledge One-Upmanship Game is a pattern of group behavior in the form of a contest to determine which player knows the most arcane fact. It can seem like innocent fun, but it can disrupt a team's ability to collaborate. Available here and by RSS on June 7.

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On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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