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Suez Canal

The first attempt to construct the Panama Canal by the French was foredoomed to failure because of lack of proper project management. De Lesseps, the project leader, was overly optimistic because of his past success at constructing the Suez Canal. This can be pointed out as the main reason why the project failed. As a project leader, he was unreasonable and at times he ignored the views of those who held a contrary opinion, even recognized authorities. There also lacked adequate planning prior and during the execution of the project. The project was carried on blindly without any precise goals.

This can be partially blamed on the lack of technical input during the inception of the project. Though De Lesseps was a diplomat and had no technical training, he overestimated his abilities. Instead of planning ahead, he believed that need would lead to innovation. As a result, the project was haunted by technological hitches and financial short fall which led to the ultimate failure of the project. In addition, risks were not identified effectively or were ignored. The project leader had not foreseen the risks that would later be posed by malaria and yellow fever.

This led to high sick and death rate among the French employees which added greatly to the cost of administration and resulted in an unstable labor force. The constant changes in the workforce made it difficult to pursue any regular plan to keep up an effective organization to carry on the work. This coupled by the informal management of the workforce led to low productivity and lack of a sense of direction in the workforce. Reference: Kendrick, T. (2003). Identifying and Managing Project Risk. New York, USA: AMACOM

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