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The Discussion of the Panama Canal, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 336

Essay

The construction of the Panama Canal ranks as one of the largest (public works) projects of the 20th century. Indeed, not only was the project conducted in an area with limited resources, but its scope was massive, featuring significant complexity. Under the initial project manager John Findlay Wallace, a plan was not even approved; this lack of progress was not only a function of Wallace’s limited project management background, but also a significant bureaucratic military commission in the US that could not even agree on what a construction plan would look like.

John Stevens, the second project manager of the Canal, played a key role in the Canal’s construction. This progress was a function of several factors. First, Stevens had substantial project management experience with difficult projects, primarily in the railroad industry. Stevens helped to build railroads across the country. Second, Stevens did not face the same bureaucratic challenges as his predecessor in securing approval for his plan. Before being named as the main project manager, President Theodore Roosevelt disbanded the seven-man commission that had served more as an obstacle than a consulting body. Without having to deal with this bureaucratic organization, Stevens was able to propose ideas and move forward without having his hands tied in soliciting approval from a commission.

Finally, Stevens was able to do something his predecessor never achieved: establishing a reliable scope for the project. In addition to building key infrastructure for workers that would allow the project to commence, Stevens focused on dividing the project into manageable processes that would serve as the foundation of the project. This is not to say, however, that Stevens did not focus on the details. Indeed, he planned the Canel construction down to the finest detail; however, at the end of the day he also had a macro picture of what the construction would look like.

Overall, Stevens faced less severe obstacles in moving forward with the planning process. However, he also brought a rigorous planning and project management skill set that differentiated himself from his predecessor.

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