Category Archives: Thoughts & Musings

Personal thoughts and musings on a variety of subjects

The evolution of South Melbourne

As many people know I have an interest in the history and development of project, and construction, management:  This includes an interest in the way the built environment is created, adapted, and evolves.

We have lived and worked in modern-day South Melbourne for the last 20+ years, so I thought it was time to focus on history closer to home…… using images of maps I’ve found over the years that show the development of our suburb during its relatively short existence.

The city of Melbourne was founded on the North bank of the Yarra River in 1835. Within 20 years, the road pattern for Emerald Hill had been established (now South Melbourne) and the rail lines to Port Melbourne and St. Kilda built.  This map shows the area in 1855:

By 1880 tram lines were under construction connecting through to the city:

The shops in the background are different but the buildings remain unchanged.

By 1890 most of the features recognizable today were in place (Albert Park is the location of the Melbourne F1 race each year):

Thirty years later in 1921 the tram network was established. Most of the tram lines are still operational and the railways have been converted to light rail and join the tram network in the city:

Fast forward to 2022 and apart from changes in the municipal boundaries, not much has changed:

And South Melbourne is still a great place to live and work.

What is an algorithm?

Surprisingly, the answer to this apparently simple question depends on the year you asked the question!

The term algorithm comes from the name of the Persian mathematical genius, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c. 780 – c. 850). Algoritmi is the Latinized version of his name ‘Al-Khwarizmi’. In his lifetime he produced influential works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography.

From the perspective of numbers, Al-Khwarizmi formalised the concepts of the Hindu-Arabic number system we use today, and the decimal point. 12th century Latin translations of his textbook Algorithmo de Numero Indorum codified the Hindu-Arabic numerals, and introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. In medieval Latin, algorismus simply meant the decimal number system which became an English word by the 13th Century (source:

Another of his books, The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing was a revolutionary move away from the Greek concept of mathematics which was essentially geometry. It was first text to describe the use of algebra, in an elementary form, for processes such as solving quadratic equations. The book was translated into Latin by Robert of Chester in 1145, and was used until the sixteenth century as the principal mathematical textbook of European universities. The term algebra comes from the title of this book (the word al-jabr meaning completion).

Then some 200 years ago Charles Babbage, known as the father of computing submitted a one-page paper about an invention, The differential machine. With 25,000 different parts, this machine is to all intents the world’s first mechanical computer. Babbage went on to invent the analyzing machine, a general-purpose computer for which mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote what many consider the first algorithm.

Charles Babbage Difference Engine

However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the term algorithm came to mean a set of step-by-step rules for solving a problem. Then in the early part of the 20th Century, Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, worked out how in theory, a machine could follow algorithmic instructions and solve complex mathematics. And the rest is ‘history’.

For more on the history of numbers, calendars and calculations see:

Saint Expeditus the Patron Saint of Projects?

Saint Expeditus also known as Expedite, is considered the patron saint of urgent causes, he is commemorated by the Catholic Church on 19th April.

According to tradition, Saint Expeditus was a Roman centurion in Armenia who became a Christian and was beheaded during the Diocletian Persecution in 303 A.D. The day he decided to become a Christian, the Devil took the form of a crow and told him to defer his conversion until the next day. Expeditus stamped on the bird and killed it, declaring, “I’ll be a Christian today!”

Achieving an expeditious completion of difficult challenges (and avoiding procrastination) has been a problem throughout history.  In the past, some have sought the help of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, and time (the month of January is named after him), others have prayed to St. Expedius, the patron saint of the patron saint of urgent causes, to bring a conclusion to long running issues (particularly law cases). Maybe this could continue today.

While the foregoing outline is accurate, not much else is known about the Saint. His real name is unknown, possibly Elpidius, and there are several legends dealing with the reason his name was changed to be a pun of rapidity, but the most likely explanation is a copyist’s error. But, notwithstanding the doubtful origins of the Saint name, pictures of him were in existence in Germany in the eighteenth century which plainly depicted him as a saint to be invoked against procrastination and we can all do with some help in this regard. Viable alternatives may be St Anthony (Miracles), or St Jude (Lost Causes).

Just for the record – Climate science pre-dates the UN and modern China!

Global Temperature

Global Temperature

In developing a theory to explain the ice ages, Svante August Arrhenius (1859 – 1927), a Nobel-Prize winning Swedish scientist developed the formula that is still used to predict the effect of greenhouse gasses.

In 1896, he was the first to use basic principles of physical chemistry to estimate the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will increase Earth’s surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. These calculations led him to conclude that human-caused CO2 emissions, from fossil-fuel burning and other combustion processes, are large enough to cause global warming. 120 years later some idiots still seem to think the concept is a ‘hoax’.

Even earlier, French scientist Claude Pouillet made the first estimate of the solar constant in 1838 and concluded the temperature experienced on the earth’s surface was much higher than could be explained by the sun’s radiation alone and suggested the atmosphere must provide some form of insulation. Arrhenius confirmed this hypothesis and identified the primary cause of the warming effect.

Ethics and sustainability

Building ethics and sustainability into a project does not limit its success; in fact the reverse is often true. London’s Crossrail project is turning into an outstandingly successful project despite numerous challenges including finding hundreds of skeletal remains from the Black Death in the excavation for one of its major stations.  One can only hope Melbourne’s Metrorail project to construct a similar heavy rail tunnel under the CBD is as successful.

One factor in the Crossrail success has been the focus of the UK government on developing the skills needed to manage major infrastructure projects focused on the Major Projects Authority. This multi-year investment links proactive oversight and reporting, with research, support and training designed to create an organic capability to make major projects work (more on this later). Another is being prepared to ‘think outside of the square’ to solve major challenges – the focus of this post.

The challenge faced by Crossrail (and to a lesser extent Metrorail) is what to do with millions of tonnes of excavated materials when your project is situated under a major city??  The Crossrail solution has been innovative and coincidentally focused on restoring the environment of my youth.

Wallasea Island unloading wharf

Wallasea Island unloading wharf

Tidal marshlands may not be the scenery of choice for many but the marshes do have a fascination for those of us who grew up playing in and around them. My home and Charles Dickens 150 years earlier were the North Kent marshes.

Pip at the start of Great Expectations: “Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea…”  and elsewhere “The dark flat wilderness, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it… the low leaden line of the river… and the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, the sea…”

The landscape is not quite as bleak as it was (but still comes close in winter). The marshes have been drained and there are hops and orchards where there would once have been a windswept wilderness. But the Kent that Dickens knew can still be glimpsed if you know where to look, including the graves where Pip was first confronted by Magwitch in St. James’ churchyard at Cooling.

Seals at Wallasea Island

Seals at Wallasea

However, what may be seen as less than desirable real-estate to people not born on or near the marshes is essential habitat for a vast range of migratory birds and native wildlife.  Unfortunately, in the 150 years since Dickens, the draining, farming and urbanisation of the lands around the Thames and Medway estuaries has destroyed much of this valuable habitat. But the tide is turning.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has been on the campaign trail for the last 30 years to re-establish the marshlands in North Kent and Essex.  One of their earlier successes was to convert the industrial landscape of the Cliffe marshes (my home village) into Cliffe Pools.

Cliffe Pools before the RSPB project

Cliffe Pools before the RSPB project

The chalk hills and clay marshes were home to whiting works from the early 1700s and Portland cement works from 1866. Several years after the last of the factories finally closed, the flooded quarries used to dredge clay and some of the former industrial sites were brought by the RSPB and are now a steadily improving wildlife reserve.

Cliffe Pools after the RSPB project

Cliffe Pools after the RSPB project

On the other side of the Thames, the RSPB and Crossrail have combined in to create a new marshland on a massively larger scale.  Wallasea Island in Essex is an on-going project that has used 3 million tonnes of clay from the Crossrail excavations to start the transformation of drained farmland into coastal wetlands and marshes.  Another 10 million tonnes will be required to complete future stages of the project.  The drained farmland was several meters below the high tide level, protected by sea walls (and under increasing threat from rising sea levels); coastal marshes need to be a bit above sea level. Massive amounts of fill were required for the ‘wild coast project’.

Crossrail solved their problem of ‘what to do with millions of tonnes of excavated spoil’ by shipping the materials to Wallasea Island and working with the RSPB to transform the area. A win-win outcome Crossrail were able to use costal shipping to remove the clay from London minimising road haulage and carbon emissions, and they avoided tipping costs from commercial landfill sites. 80% of the materials were transported by water or rail on a tonne per kilometer basis. The RSPB got a head start on a major project to reinstate a major area of coastal marshland and 1000s of birds are getting a new home.


When completed in 2025, the project will have created 148 hectares of mudflats, 192 hectares of saltmarsh, and 76 acres of shallow saline lagoons.

Wallasea Island is a work in progress, but with at least two major tunnelling projects in London still to come, the Thames Tideway sewage scheme and Crossrail2, and the infrastructure in place to take the excavated spoil completion of this project seems likely.


What is of importance form the perspective of this post is the Crossrail project is 65% complete and on time and on budget – being environmentally friendly and effective are not incompatible!  It will be interesting to see what the Metrorail project does with its excavated spoil.

The100 Most Inspiring People in Project Management

RecognitionTimeCamp, the developers of TimeCamp online time tracking software that measures time spent on projects and tasks has created a list of the 100 Most Inspiring People in Project Management; congratulations to many friends and colleagues who’ve made the list.

While we’re not sure of the process used to develop the list (the links are mainly to Twitter), it’s great to see Lynda at #12!  And it’s good to know her work promoting stakeholder engagement, effective communication and team development is being recognised globally.

A New Force in ADR.


At the beginning of 2015, Australia’s two major organisations focused on delivering ADR services merged.  LEDAR was the larger of the two with a strong emphasis on mediation and conciliation.  IAMA (Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia) was the older body with a history based in Arbitration and Expert Determination, more recently expanded to include Adjudication and Mediation.

Merger talks had occupied the latter part of 2014, culminating in a large majority of the members of both organisations approving the merger which was formalised by the merger and then the hard work of integration began…… A ‘working name’ of LEADR&IAMA was adopted for the merged entity until a process to define a new brand image for the organisation could be worked through.

As readers of this blog will now one of our major themes is stakeholder engagement, change management and communication.  I must say, for an organisation that largely consists of lawyers, augments with engineers, builders and assorted mediators from many disciplines the path to a new name and brand image has been remarkably well managed.

For any organisation, its name and logo are cornerstones of presenting professionally and connecting business, government and the broader community with its members. Dispute resolution through any of the options offered by the merged entity is no different. But rather than jumping to a ‘name’, the board took its members on a journey to find a name that will enable the organisation to promote excellence in dispute resolution and provide an identity for members, the organisation and current and future clients. Professional help was engaged from Uberbrand to help on the journey.

The Board began by brainstorming and collecting 34 different potential names, some contributed by members (including a couple from me). When reviewed, the 34 names varied in their relevance, their effectiveness in conveying the function and purpose of the organisation and their potential appeal to members, the public and allow an appropriate domain name (URL) to be registered.

The next step was a survey of the joint membership looking at opportunities, values and services and growth opportunities. The survey encouraged involvement in the process as well as helping derive a consensus.

From all of this input, the Board members distilled core features of the organisation as follows:

Our members

  • Have extraordinary depth and range of experience and expertise
  • Work across the full suite of dispute resolution types
  • Have reputation, influence and status
  • Are highly professional

Our values

  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Excellence
  • Collaboration
  • Diversity

Our methods

  • We champion the practice of dispute resolution
  • We support members
  • We promote excellence in dispute resolution

Our purpose

  • Through our members, we provide people with the means to resolve disputes

Our aspiration

  • For people to think of the members of our organisation
  • For resolution to be embedded in the way that people settle disputes, manage conflicts, make decisions and grow collaborative relationships

From all of this the new name and logo emerged:


The name Resolution Institute was chosen for the following reasons:

  • the name as a whole, focuses current and future users of dispute resolution to think highly of our members, and conveys the gravitas of both resolution and of the people, our members, who practise dispute resolution
  • it contributes to ‘resolution’ being fundamental to the way people settle disputes, manage conflicts, make decisions and grow collaborative relationships
  • the word “institute”  encompasses different features of the organisation. Its meanings include, an organisation that is established to promote a cause and also that delivers educational programs. The Board noticed that it is also sometimes used by not-for-profit organisations which have a membership base. In addition, the word “institute” connotes gravitas. For these reasons, the Board chose this word, rather than others such as “association”, “society” or “council”.

The logo was chosen as it represents coming to a resolution from different starting points. The arcs, as parts of a circle, suggest inclusiveness and belonging. As well as resonating with our values:

  • the pattern of woven lines reflects collaboration
  • the colours represent diversity
  • the modern, forward movement conveys innovation
  • the clean crisp lines align with integrity, and
  • the blend of colours on a clear white background suggest excellence.

The dinner to celebrate IAMA’s 40th anniversary in a couple of weeks time will be an interesting transition celebrating 40 years of history (for me 30 years of membership), the passing of IAMA and the opening up of a new and interesting future in the development of ADR in Australia. There’s certainly a new and distinctive ‘brand’ in the marketplace.

The re-branding work has a way to go,  contact details:

Two passing thoughts

The first thought is around the intransigence of some people.  Whilst a stubborn willingness to ‘be successful’ at all costs can be a virtue, this determination has to be balanced with pragmatism.  The folly of a Pyrrhic victory has been recognised for millennia; but we still see leaders, managers and individuals who simply cannot see the virtue in compromise and ultimately knowing when its time to lose.

Don Quix Idiott

Our government’s ridiculous stand against renewable energy and a whole range of people’s opposition to the concept of climate change is one example. Another is the range of people opposing gay marriage and other largely unstoppable social trends based on their beliefs.

No one is suggesting the opponents to these social trends need to change their behaviours but by fighting to impose their doctrine on others, which is not accepted by a vast and growing majority, simply causes unnecessary pain and suffering all round.  Three key Christian doctrines are firstly ‘love thy neighbour (as they are)’, second set a good example (and encourage other to follow you), and third allow God to judge the ‘quick and the dead’ – mere mortals can never understand the ways of the Lord and cannot judge others. Notwithstanding these basic tenets of the Christian faith, watch a whole lot of people misuse Christianity to tell others how they should live their lives and then become bitter when the inevitable happens and they lose the ‘fight’ after causing a huge amount of unnecessary damage. The art of leadership is to commit you followers to fights they can win, and where winning is worth the cost.

The flip side of this proposition is great leaders and managers also know when to lose and how to lose gracefully. This was the theme of our paper: Know when to lose.

On a lighter subject, I turned 65 this week and the powers that determine UCT kindly decided to increase the duration of my birthday by an additional second, making the day one of the longest in the modern era.  I’m not sure I particularly noticed the extra second but it’s nice to know it was there.  If you are interested in the journey to precisely accurate calendars the story is at: The origin of calendars.

History of PM in Australia

Lessons-from-HistoryI’m pleased to announce the publication of the AIPM web portal outlining the history of project management in Australia and the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). Hopefully the site, as launched today, will be the foundation for developing a comprehensive ‘living source’ of information on our history and the on-going development of AIPM and the project management profession.

I was able to contribute to this initiative in two ways, firstly Mosaic was one of the commercial sponsors who helped fund this important work, secondly after the passing of my friend, and inveterate hoarder, Brian Doyle, several years ago I inhered a large box of old paperwork stored by Brian over the decades (on the basis I have an abiding interest in the history of project management).

Once I was aware of the AIPM history project, a careful sorting of the papers uncovered many original documents from Brian’s time as the Founding Secretary of the then PMF (now AIPM).  I’m pleased to say these papers are now part of the AIPM archive.

Why does this matter??  My belief is no practice can evolve into a well rounded profession without a good understanding of its origins and development. Project Management is starting to emerge as a distinct profession and being aware of our history and the development of ‘modern project management’ is a key underpinning of that journey towards becoming a fully recognised profession, supported by a distinct academic discipline.

My hope is the other major institutions world-wide such as the APM (UK) and PMI (USA) follow suite and not only record their history and make it easily available, but also establish proper archives so these documents and interviews are retained for use by future researchers.

History is always an interpretation of information – current interpretations (including mine) are always subject to review and challenge and having access to first hand accounts and original documents will enable this process to continue into the future.

The AIPM’s newly minted web portal is at

My contributions towards documenting the broader sweep of project, and project controls, history is at:

PMBOK Health Warning

Health Warning:  Do not attempt to read the PMBOK and drive!

Animal tests undertaken by Mosaic show that reading a single chapter of the PMBOK can induce a state ranging from drowsiness to deep sleep; with the effect on younger animals being significant.


Similar effects have been observed from exposure to PMP training materials in the office……


As a result of these and other ‘real world’ observations, we recommend any prolonged exposure to the PMBOK and any associated training materials be restricted to either the safety of your own home, or a carefully controlled classroom environment under the supervision of a qualified trainer.


  1. No cats were injured during this study.
  2. Dr. Lynda Bourne is currently part of the PMI core team developing the 6th Edition of the PMBOK, due for publication in Dec. 2016.
  3. We have designed our courses to minimise the effects identified in this study.
    1. For more on our classroom training see:
    2. For more on our Mentored email training see:
  4. Apart from Note 2, this post is simply a gratuitous excuse to publish some really cute cat pictures sourced from:  we hope you enjoy the other 26 pictures.
  5. This post was originally published in 2014  – it seemed too good to ignore on the 1st April 🙂