Academics at UCL have identified 18 reasons why megaprojects such as HS2 and Crossrail often fail, as well as 54 preventative solutions. The study found that no isolated factor could account for the poor performance of megaprojects. Instead, the paper is the first to identify several causes and suggest a systemic approach to enhance understanding of megaprojects.
The team list the six themes as decision-making behavior; strategy, governance and procurement; risk and uncertainty; leadership and capable teams; stakeholder engagement and management; supply chain integration and coordination. They were found to be all of equal importance when analyzing why such projects seem doomed to fail. (1)
Aim high. Fall hard.
Does it matter?
Failures are signposts for success anyway. Why fear of them?
The question is not whether failure is good or bad, but whether we should strive for success in the first place! What is success really? Would you celebrate for a mega-project? Would you celebrate for changing the world? Or would that be a cause for sadness?
We admire those who succeed in life.
But they are essentially those who fail to accept death.
We admire change imposed by us.
But this only disguises failure to adapt to what already Is.
A study found that hiring algorithms are too opaque for us to understand if they are fair or not. (1) In other news, a scientist tried to help humans design algorithms that would never go the wrong way, doing harm rather than good, by implementing fail safes in their initial design (2)
Researchers tried to assess the effect of a new road to the local turtle populations.
“It turns out that turtles liked to hang out (a lot) in fun places like thick patches of greenbrier and multiflora rose,” says Weigand, one of the researchers. “Overall, we found that turtles at both roadless and roadside sites used similar habitats, with high volumes of downed woody debris and thick understory, so our initial hypothesis that the bypass was affecting how turtles selected habitat was not validated”.
However, the researchers discovered something rather puzzling — while many turtles used the open roadside habitat created by the new highway for thermoregulation and nesting, no turtles attempted to cross the road. (1)
We like to run. To things! To run!
And because of that we need to run more! And more!
And adapt! And do more things!
And run! And…
Well, you get the meaning.
But here we are.
And all this time…
A turtle was looking at us in amazement…
“Poor rabbit, why do you run so hard?”
Don’t you know that at the end the turtle will win?
Neuroscientists have analyzed how people react when they listen to a range of different sounds, the aim being to establish the extent to which repetitive sound frequencies are considered unpleasant. Their results showed that the conventional sound-processing circuit is activated but that the cortical and sub-cortical areas involved in the processing of salience and aversion are also solicited. This explains why the brain goes into a state of alert on hearing this type of sound. (1)
We used to live in Paradise.
Afraid of nothing.
Then we learned new things.
And fear is in our soul ever since.
We used to listen to everything.
Standing alone in the forest, being afraid of nothing.
But we couldn’t bear the silence. And we closed our ears.
Destroyed the forest and started listening closely.
Of the footsteps approaching.
Within the safety of love.
We are afraid of our self…
Are you brave enough to look down to your own feet on the dirt?
WARNING: Major spoilers for the movie Greenland (2020) ahead. Please move away if you have a problem with knowing how the movie ends.
I recently saw the movie Greenland with Gerard Butler.
It is a typical Hollywood movie with action, drama and a lot of special effects. A nice movie overall, given of course the category it is in. It will surely give you a good two hours of pop-corn-eating pleasure.
A comet is approaching Earth and all is going to die.
Of course not.
The hero will be saved. And his family too. And to be fair to the movie, the scenario is not the typical scenario of planet-destruction movies where the hero tries to save the world. Here there are pleasant twists from the very beginning of the movie that offer something refreshing and different from what we would expect: The hero knows from the very beginning of the movie that the comet will hit Earth and he also learns that he and his family are selected to be saved. These things are clarified in the first ten minutes of the film! This offers some real excitement and anticipation for a really interesting climax.
And the film does not disappoint us.
Yes, the hero is chosen for survival.
But things get complicated.
SECOND WARNING: Major spoilers for the movie Greenland (2020) ahead. Consider yourself warned.
Because the hero’s son is ill, he cannot board the plane that will take him and his family to safety. Where is that? Well, as in all typical super-effects-super-action movies, the shelter is a super classified shelter built by the government is a remote place. From the title of the movie, it is evident where that place is…
Fast-forward many minutes ahead and the hero at the end manages to reach the super-classified shelter (which for obvious-only-to-the-script-writer reasons is now known to everyone who can fly a small plane) right before the larger piece of the comet hits Earth.
This is a piece that will cause a planetary-anihiliation event similar to the one that made the dinosaurs gracefully give their place to us on this planet.
The final moment is touching and emotional (well, at least for the standards of such a movie – but to be honest it wasn’t that bad). The hero says to his son right before the comet hits Earth that he and his wife loves him and that it doesn’t matter what will happen because they are all together.
Comet hits Earth.
His (the hero’s) life passes in front of his eyes (something his son told him in the beginning of the movie that happens when you die, a nice touch of προοικονομία in the movie). Past happy days with his wife. Some past birthday of his son when he was three. Smiles and happy faces. A scene where he is hugging his wife.
I was amazed. Did I just see a movie where the hero and his family die? That would be fantastic! A movie where at last the end is not some corny cheesy ending of ‘happily ever after’. After all, it was a killer comet. Who would survive that? It all made sense in a poetic way. They tried so much to survive, only to die together. Isn’t that what life is about? We all struggle to live more. But at the end we all know that we will die.
Very few people realize that. I mean REALLY realize it.
We live every day with the illusion that we will live for ever.
We know we won’t.
But this is our secret desire. And we can’t let go of it.
And our civilization is too much blinded by our wishes that has banned death from our thoughts and lives. We know people die, but we only really think about it when people die. And only for a second, right before we storm out and try to conquer life, conquer the world and all that other nice life mottos we are meant to follow. Because life is all that matters. Death is for the others. It is not there, unless it really touches us.
And do you know what’s funny?
A death-averting civilization like our own is a civilization that at the end praises death!
One can never be alive unless we embrace our ending.
But we never do.
Even in the face of certain death, we always have hope that we will get better. That medicine will save us. That somehow our modern civilization will defeat death. And when it doesn’t, hope is just kept alive through the others who are kept alive. For we believe that life is about living. But it is not. We are alive because we have soul. We are alive because we are Beings. Part of One. If we were simple sets of electrons and protons then we would just be… simple sets of electrons and protons. But we are more than that. There is something mystical transcending through the cosmos. And we will miss it every time we focus on the surface of the passing river…
As Rainer Maria Rilke used to say.
The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.
But we like so much the small things…
PS. Of course after a moment of false astonishment, the movie went on. The hero and his family survived. Everyone in the shelter survived. Other people in other cities also survived. We are too important to be destroyed by a comet. Our civilization will survive. This is our dream. Fed by our dream for us surviving. As I said above, we dream of conquering death. And in the process, we forgot that life is not about living…
PS2. Now you know. Just ‘cut’ the movie at the end of the scene where Gerard Butler remembers his life. And the movie will get so much better.