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LFH Overview

Program and Project Governance

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Program and Project Governance

Using case studies from Pearl Harbor

Summary Description of Workshop

This workshop is based on the attack on Pearl Harbor as a study in governance.  We all know the story of what happened on December 7, 1941.  Few of us know why or how all the best efforts of the US Military failed to prevent the Japanese from attacking so successfully and with very minimal losses.

On December 7, 1941 the world changed for the United States following the surprise attack on the home port of the US Pacific Fleet by elements of the Japanese Imperial Navy.  The shock of this event led to a major overhaul of governance that influenced policy and practice for 60 years.   In the current world of projects today there are similar events, waiting to change reality for Project Directors, Managers, and Leaders.

There were two large bureaucratic organizations (The U.S. Army and Navy) managing the most complex technology of their day.  These two groups were given conflicting and overlapping mandates in Hawaii, with a shared goal and badly broken lines of communication.  The objective of this workshop on this event is to parallel the lessons from the days leading up to the attack to situations in modern organizations and governance.  We let the history act as both a mirror and a lens, helping us see our organization in the reflection of the events from 1940-41, and focus on the key lessons of governance that those events contain.

Attendees will see the nature of project governance at strategic, tactical, and operational levels using the Pearl Harbor story as a background related to modern project experiences when an unforeseen reality (Sarbanes-Oxley, SARS, Privacy, Bill 168, business changes) arrives with serious consequences.  The comparison examines how people, process and technology combined at all levels to create an epic failure of governance despite all the modern tools of diplomacy, intelligence, and leadership.

The key findings from the 8 enquiries into the events of December 7, 1941 are as relevant to projects today as they were 70 years ago.  Discover how multiple failures could have been avoided and history re-written, and how to apply these lessons today.

Who Should Attend?

PMO leaders, program and project managers, project team members, managers and general business professionals.

Japanese Fleet at sea

burning PBY

USS Arizona_Pearl Harbor 

Learning Objectives

Attendees will learn about the governance and how to apply it to today’s organizations, projects and teams.  After the workshop class members will know:

  • How governance exists at strategic, tactical, and operational levels within a program/project, and the limits of ability at each level.
  • How the lack of governance can handcuff a project from moving forward.
  • How to create adaptive governance that will be responsive to environment changes. 
  • The key lessons of governance and how to apply these in a PMO, program and project teams.
  • The enablers in applying good governance.

war declared times 

The Benefits of the Workshop

In retrospect, it has often been possible to predict significant events and take remedial actions, but as at Pearl Harbor, all the urgency is lost before actions are taken. 

The backdrop of the tragic events of December 7, 1941 are the cumulative result of overdependence on technology, siloed organizations, communications failure, and a tidal wave of unresponsive decision structures.


The workshop is based on the following publication.

Note: This course conforms to the internationally recognized standards of the Project Management Institute (PMI®). You will receive 8 PDUs (professional development units) upon completion.


Pearl Harbor

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