Program Management and Events of Scale


Personal Perspective



By Bob Prieto

Jupiter, Florida, USA



Since early 2001, I have observed the impact of a series of high-profile events of scale. These events of scale have encompassed both manmade as well as naturally occurring events and the lessons outlined below are derived from a systems perspective and are to a large degree independent of the initiating event. Much has been written about individual events, the failures and successes in being prepared, the lessons learned in the immediate aftermath and the challenges during recovery.

This paper looks more broadly, focusing on programmatic features common in our preparation and planning to resist, respond and recover from these events. Careful consideration may improve our overall infrastructure resiliency and improve outcomes in the future. Table 1 summarizes my perspective in observing each of these events and to the extent possible the lessons learned have been grouped into three phases of resiliency:

– Resist phase

– Respond phase

– Recover phase

Clearly the list is not all encompassing but provides a starting point and framework for future development.

Where My Involvement Began

Maybe it was the high-altitude air and snow-covered mountains of Davos, Switzerland or perhaps the eclectic collection of people from around the world that inspired nobler ideas. But whether from within or without, I came to a crossroads that very much changed how I thought about many things in life. How I perceived the world, or more specifically the infrastructure systems that enabled the day-to-day functioning of the world we live in, changed in several fundamental ways.

That day was January 26, 2001 and the Governors of the Engineering & Construction community of the World Economic Forum were due to have their annual meeting. Traditionally, this meeting was a time to renew global friendships and make new ones. But this day was different. We awoke to the news that Gujarat, India, had experienced a terrible earthquake the night before, with widespread failures in buildings and supporting infrastructure.

We also awoke to find one of our members from India exhausted from a sleepless night on the telephone trying to mobilize the heavy equipment and other resources he had to respond to this horrific tragedy and to his anger and frustration that “doing the right thing” was hampered by the lack of an efficient way for these new first responders, engineers and constructors, to engage with the public sector.


It was out of this frustration and perhaps the thin air of the Swiss mountains that the Disaster Resource Network (originally called Engineers without Borders in those early days) or DRN was first conceived. Later we were to come to learn that at the same time in another hotel in Davos, the Transportation and Logistics Governors were arriving at the very same conclusion.



To read entire paper, click here


Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally published in PM World Today in July 2008.  It is republished here with the author’s permission.

How to cite this paper: Prieto, R. (2008). Personal Perspective: Program Management and Events of Scale, Second Edition, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue V, May 2020.  Originally published in PM World Today, July 2008. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/pmwj93-May2020-Prieto-program-management-and-events-of-scale-2nd-ed.pdf



About the Author


Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC
Jupiter, Florida, USA



 Bob Prieto is a senior executive effective in shaping and executing business strategy and a recognized leader within the infrastructure, engineering and construction industries. Currently Bob heads his own management consulting practice, Strategic Program Management LLC.  He previously served as a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. He focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide and consults with owners across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies. He is author of nine books including “Strategic Program Management”, “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry”, “Application of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry”, “Capital Efficiency: Pull All the Levers” and, most recently, “Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) as well as over 600 other papers and presentations.

Bob is an Independent Member of the Shareholder Committee of Mott MacDonald. He is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction, a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America and member of several university departmental and campus advisory boards. Bob served until 2006 as a U.S. presidential appointee to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth.  He had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he served as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and a non-executive director of Cardn0 (ASX)

Bob can be contacted at rpstrategic@comcast.net.