Daniel Armanios delivers his Inaugural Lecture as BT Professor and Chair of Major Programme Management at Saïd Business School.
From 3-D printed bridges and portable solar grids to drones delivering agricultural and medical supplies to remote regions in Tanzania: technological advances are leading the way to the next-generation of hyper-distributed and hyper-localised major programmes, said Daniel Armanios, BT Professor and Chair of Major Programme Management at Oxford Saïd. Such new tools can combine with research insights to inform sustainable development and innovation in these programmes, while also alleviating systemic inequities by better including those who have been historically marginalised in such programmes.
Professor Armanios was delivering his Inaugural Lecture as a Statutory (University) Professor, in the presence of Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Bedel Carolyn Barnes, Senior Proctor Professor Jane Mellor, Junior Proctor Dr Linda Flores, and Principal Helen King of St Anne’s College. He was introduced by Oxford Saïd Dean Soumitra Dutta.
He argued that what we traditionally think of as major programmes – mega-projects that are multi-organisational yet rely on a centralised convening site – are not as adept at managing the increasingly distributed and situated portfolios of projects that will typify future major programmes. And they ‘often ignore communities who are not on the delivery path but nonetheless intersect such programmes’.
Mega-projects rely on standardising in order to scale. They create then replicate the same products, fittings, and parts to be used across the whole programme. But, Professor Armanios said, ‘the notion of scaling one project to cover demand is now making way to a portfolio of projects, each calibrated to the size of local demand. This is a process of right-sizing as opposed to just scaling… we are now in a world that's trying to replicate not the result but the method, with the understanding that what may result in one community may differ for another.’
Such distributed major programmes will require new mapping, technological, organisational, and network tools which Professor Armanios outlined in his Project S³ framework of Scoping, Scaffolding, and Sensing. These will not only facilitate innovation, collaboration and experimentation, but also detect the ‘gaps’ where people and communities have been excluded, and suggest ways of better including and co-developing with them.
He concluded: ‘If we are to increase our resilience to the disruptions of tomorrow, we need to increase the strength of our most vulnerable. For us to enhance our overall ability to navigate disruption we must identify those communities who have not been historically included in the process and co-design and co-govern tomorrow's major programmes to do that.’