“WHAT BOUNDARIES?”: A play about project management in four dimensions


Originally presented at the IPMA World Congress in Florence, Italy, June 1992

By Martin Barnes 

Oxfordshire, UK


I was on the planning committee for the IPMA congress in 1992 held in Florence.

At an early meeting, my colleagues came up with an entirely conventional and rather boring plan for the opening ceremony. I protested and pointed out that Florence, 500 years earlier in 1492, must have been dominated by the project managers of the time who brought about and managed every aspect of the renaissance, the most important political and cultural advance of that millennium.  What a project!

I persuaded them that we should have a play on this theme as the focal point of the opening ceremony.

I wrote a play which needed three people. The characters were Prospero (me) and Ariel (Sally Aylard), both characters from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. All other parts were played by David Hadfield.  The structure of the play is based on Charles Dickens’ book ‘A Christmas Carol’ with ‘scenes’ from the past, present and future. We came on at the end of the morning session, hence the various references to going to lunch.

The various references to boundaries are there because the congress was called “Project Management Without Boundaries”.  “Fangel Day” is referred to because Morten Fangel, the Great Dane, was President of IPMA at the time. 


The play is intended to make people think more widely about the possible range of application of Project Management than they may have thought before. They may conclude that it has no geographical or time boundaries and that there are few areas of human activity into which it cannot be taken.

The project managers represent project managers of the past, present and future. Lorenzo the Magnificent is chosen because the congress at which the play was performed took place in Florence at the time of his 500 year anniversary celebrations. Prospero and Ariel develop their argument between the appearance of each project manager.


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About the Author

martin-barnes-bioflag-ukMARTIN BARNES, PhD 

Founder, Fellow, Former Chair and President, APM

Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering 

Oxfordshire, UK 

Dr. Martin Barnes, PhD, was President of the Association for Project Management (APM), the professional body for project managers in the UK, until the end of October 2012. He was a founding member (no. 10) of APM in 1972 and has been an active APM leader since that time. He was APM Chair in the 1980s and was named an APM Fellow in 1995.  Martin has a civil engineering degree from the University of London and a PhD from the University of Manchester, UK. His doctorate was awarded in 1971 for research into improved methods of financial control for engineering projects. Martin Barnes invented the classic Time/Cost/Quality triangle and other project management techniques over the years. He built up his own PM business over 15 years until it merged with what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1985.

Now a consultant in project management, Martin was also Executive Director of the Major Projects Association (MPA) for nine years until 2006. Dr Barnes has advised on significant projects in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, for the World Bank, other funding agencies, governments, promoters and major contractors. He has worked on projects in the engineering, defense, aerospace, IT, financial, business change and media sectors. Martin’s BBC television programme on project management has been used as a training aid in many countries. He has acted as expert witness in a number of arbitrations concerning major projects.  Martin led the team that produced the New Engineering Contract (NEC), a system of contracts designed to facilitate and stimulate the use of modern project management across all the contributors on a project. The NEC is now being used in over 20 countries and has been adopted by the UK government for all publicly funded construction projects.

Martin Barnes has been active in the IPMA since 1972, having attended all but one of its world congresses since that year.  He presented papers at most of them. He is a Fellow of IPMA and a former board member and Chairman of its Council of Representatives. Dr Barnes is a recipient of the Chartered Institute of Management’s Special Award and of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Watson Medal in the UK, both for his personal contributions to the development of project management. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the UK’s highest engineering recognition, and is a Churchill Fellow.  Martin Barnes lives near Oxford and can be contacted at [email protected].