Five Project Management Mistakes That Have Doomed the Human Race in Alien: Covenant
[Spoilers below, obviously]
Every project manager has seen an operation that seemed to put the fate of the entire world in jeopardy.
As important as the company’s summer update seemed at the time, think about how the Covenant’s condemned crew felt in Alien: Covenant. This is the latest installment in Ridley Scott’s Alien saga.
Not only were they tasked with transporting 2,000 colonists and 1,000 embryos to a friendly planet across the universe, they had to contend with deadly neutrino bursts, haywire androids, black goo, and–of course–acid-bleeding, face-hugging, flesh-rending xenomorphs.
Five deadly project management mistakes in Alien: Covenant
Despite all the otherworldly pitfalls, however, the Covenant crew could have done a better job in avoiding the blatant management failures that impeded their mission and the proliferation of the human race in Alien: Covenant.
Continue reading to find out what I mean.
1. Failure to mitigate risk
You would think that by 2104, most people would have learned the basic horror movie precautions described in Scream:
These rules don’t mention any of the Covenant crew members’ other gaffes like exploring a strange world without any type pathogen-filtering masks or failing to quarantine a severely ill crew-mate.
The PM lesson: Every project must begin with a kickoff meeting to define the goals and identify any potential risks. Project management is a crucial part of risk management. The crew could have created a basic plan for contingency. This way, the crew would have been better prepared to deal with the inevitable setbacks rather than spraying hot lead at the escape ship’s fuel tanks.
2. Failure to be agile
The Covenant was hit by a neutrino explosion that killed their Captain Jake Branson and 50 hibernating colonies. This would have been an opportunity to take a deep breathe, gather the team and discuss how they would react to this setback. Instead, Chris Oram, the first mate, decides to abandon the Covenant on the nearest planet habitable despite the concerns of his crew, which includes Branson’s widow Daniels.
Daniels: “Are we sure about that, Captain?”
Oram: “What do you mean?”
Daniels: “We don’t know what the ***’s are out there.”
The PM lesson: Good project managing requires regular reassessment of plans and adaptation. Bullishly pushing ahead even when the world is falling around you, and warning klaxons blasting, is a recipe to project failure or the end of the human race.
3. It is easy to make a mistake when choosing the right tools
Walter is told by the android David that “Every mission requires a good synthetic.”
Also, every project requires the right software.
One android was used by the Covenant to interface with its main computer, Mother. He also served as the lone night watchman for a crew comprising 15 colonists and thousands of embryos in hypersleep. This setup was completely inadequate when disaster struck. Why not add another synthetic, or even a third? With its space credits worth hundreds of trillions of dollar, could the Weyland Corporation not find room for a second synthetic? Is there not enough budget for such a vital mission?
Also, where was the antivirus software and bug testing for David? I don’t know if the programmers could have done a few rounds A/B testing to stop their indestructible robot-god from playing Dr. Frankenstein and any hyper-evolved killing machines that he encounters.
The PM lesson: Project managers used to need tools such as drafting boards and protractors to manage their projects in the past. Smartphones and apps are now indispensable tools for managing time, communication, planning, and project management.