published as a part of 2008 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – St. Julians, Malta
The history of
the Tower of Babel is the classical representation of the project manager more
According to the
Bible, the tower of Babel was one of the first major engineering undertakings of
humankind, as well as the first major management failure.
starts by analysing the historical myth described in the Genesis from a project
management perspectives, highlighting similarities with the day-by-day life of
The project of
the Tower failed in several respects: cultural diversity understanding,
communication and organization. Team members were not able to talk effectively
with each other, and consequently they lacked in coordinating themselves. This
deteriorated the relationships, resulting in conflicts and jealousies, with
different groups isolating themselves.
organizations, Project Managers are often requested to interact with people
coming from very different culture and professional education. Each of them is
barely willing to talk a different (professional) language than its own. Very
specialised and unintelligible jargons are, on the contrary, used by people to
reaffirm their expertise and unique contribution to the project (or to the
organization). Communications and relationship networks are critical to project
success. Project Managers shall facilitate circulation of clear information
throughout the team and toward the customers. And this is, most of the time, a
big challenge. Language diversity is, in fact, only the surfacing aspect of
personal (or organization’s) habits of thinking, paradigms, values and beliefs.
Project Managers shall carefully interact with all these cultural layers to
ensure success of their projects.
Based on his
long experience in program management, the author propose his advice on how to
manage communications on very complex projects..............