How Big Things Get Done

The Surprising Factors That Determine the Fate of Every Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration and Everything In Between

Hardcover, 304 pages

English language

Published Feb. 7, 2023 by Crown Currency.

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4 stars (1 review)

The secrets to successfully planning and delivering projects on any scale—from home renovation to space exploration—by the world’s leading expert on megaprojects

“This book is important, timely, instructive, and entertaining. What more could you ask for?”—Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize–winning author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

“Over-budget and over-schedule is an inevitability. Incompetence and grift is outrageous. Bent Flyvbjerg, with this terrific data-driven book, has shown that there is another way.”—Frank Gehry

Nothing is more inspiring than a big vision that becomes a triumphant, new reality. Think of how the Empire State Building went from a sketch to the jewel of New York’s skyline in twenty-one months, or how Apple’s iPod went from a project with a single employee to a product launch in eleven months.

These are wonderful stories. But most of the time big visions turn into nightmares. Remember Boston’s “Big Dig”? Almost every sizeable city in the world …

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Why big things don't get done

4 stars

If the title is a question, Brent has collected data across thousands of large projects and found an answer that he reveals early. Big things get done over budget, late, and deliver less value than people expected. Or they don't get done. For the most part. Not by a little bit, either - big things fail by a lot. In a database of "16,000 projecgts from 20-plus different fields in 136 countries" he finds that "99.5 precent of projects go over budget, over schedule, under benefits, or some combination of these."

And it shouldn't be this way for big things. These are HUGE EXPENDITURES. Stuff like dams, nuclear power plants,, and similar massive projects that people depend on succeeding. There should be lots of incentives to get it right.

Brent explores why this happens over and over again. He doesn't duck the question, he has real answers, like:

  • Many …


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