When The Race Is On Again


Project Business Management


By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany



“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are
achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgement;”



When the race is on again, who will be among those left behind?

Times of crises, such as the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, have always been times of troubles and sorrow, but also of re-adjustment of attitudes and approaches, of learning and growth. In project business management, now seems to be the best moment to get prepared for the time, when business will rebound.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis and Project Business Management

There was good reason for governments all around the world to enforce quarantine rules to protect people from the novel Coronavirus. It is highly contagious and lethal.

One has to be careful with comparing country numbers. The data collection in these countries does not follow identical rules, and in many countries, there is even political interest to “massage the numbers” in order to support a political agenda. However, these numbers are the best we have at the moment.

Figure 1: Deaths per confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections per 3-May-2020, 10:32 PM UST for the top 20 countries in # of confirmed cases. Data source: Johns Hopkins University[2]

Figure 1 shows for the 20 most affected countries (per 3rd May 2020) the numbers deaths in relation to the confirmed infections and. For some countries, a lethality has been measured of over 15%. The risk for the population is very high, and temporary restrictions of personal freedoms should be considered justified to protect everyone.

Protecting people is necessary, however the effect is disastrous for many businesses, including, of course for project business. “Social distancing” (in essence rather physical distancing) and prohibiting people from travelling has proven to be effective in the fight against the disease, by reducing the spreading of the virus through human-to-human contact, but also crippled many industries that relied on such contacts or on the freedom of people to travel.

Interesting is a look at another set of data for the same countries, the percentage of people, who have recovered from the disease.

Figure 2: Recoveries per confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections per 3-May-2020, 10:32 PM UST for the top 20 countries in # of confirmed cases. Data source: Johns Hopkins University3

On the left hand side of the diagram are countries whose population seems to have widely overcome the crisis. The number of new and active confirmed cases is small in relation to the cases that can be considered ended, at least for the moment. Uncertainties remain, but it seems that for these countries, the pandemic has not ended, but the risks have become smaller.

Ending the Crisis?

Based on the same data from Johns Hopkins University, the smoothed curves in Figure 3 support this assumption. Countries with a high recovery rate typically have a sinking rate of new confirmed infections, while a low recovery rate comes with an even or growing number.



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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Project Business Management” (ISBN 9781138197503), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2018. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehmann, O. (2020). When The Race Is On Again; Series on Project Business Management; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue V, May.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/pmwj93-May2020-Lehmann-When-the-Race-is-on-Again-PBM-series-article.pdf



About the Author


Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany




Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP, is a project management educator, author, consultant, and speaker. In addition, he is the President of the Project Business Foundation, the home association for professionals and organizations involved in cross-corporate projects.

He studied Linguistics, Literature and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree. Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, USA and Asia in methodological project management with a focus on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998, and served as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter from 2013 to 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch”, analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and can be contacted at oliver@oliverlehmann.com.

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the books:

His previous articles and papers for PM World Journal can be found here:


[1] (Cicero, 1923)

[2] (Johns-Hopkins University, 2020)