This article debunks a story I’ve used on a number of occasions to highlight the power of standardization. It seems the legend surrounding the creation of the standard gauge for railways is an artistic creation rather than an effective way of explaining the known facts.
Our latest article, Myths and Legends – The Origins of Standard Gauge Railways grew out of the research undertaken for The Origins and History of Cost Engineering and the soon to be published The First Railway & Canal Projects.
The article shows that unlike the elaborate myth, standard gauge appears to be the consequence of random chance. These findings raise a number of important issues:
- While a good story is an invaluable communication tool, the connections within the story need to be as robust as the facts they connect.
- Don’t look for complex solutions when there’s a simple explanation (Ockham’s razor), function follows form regardless of the century.
- Don’t underestimate the power of random chance.
See more on the history of project management: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php