Project Management, Denial, and the Death Zone – A Book

project management denial and the deathzoneProject Management, Denial, and the Death Zone: Lessons from Everest and Antarctica is a guide that uses analogies with the experiences of Antarctic explorers and Mount Everest expedition leaders to the challenges faced by project managers of today. With the use of examples and lessons learned from these early explorers, the author provides insight of the causes and constancy of today’s project failures, the failure of organizations to understand them, and the focus on capabilities, methodologies and processes with increasing complexity but do not address the problem.

Book Details

This first hardcover edition was published in October 2015 by J. Ross Publishing. It has 260 pages and is about 0.8 inch thick. The front cover shows a photo with a profile of a person in extreme cold weather clothing on what seems to be a tundra during a low setting of the sun. The title in large fonts is displayed in the left upper area, the subtitle in the lower right area, with the author’s name below it. ISBN-10: 1604271191; ISBN-13: 978-1604271195


$49.95 for the hardcover edition


Target Audience

Project Management, Denial and the Death Zone is ideal for project and program managers, risk managers, project sponsors, senior executives, decision makers, business owners and team leaders. Those who are interested about leadership amidst complex and high-risk initiatives will benefit from insights shared.

What Customers Say

Prof. Michael Elmes described it as a unique and fascinating book. The lessons learned from the past high-risk adventures can give current project managers new insights in the challenges they face.

Iain Fraser stated that the parallels of the past expeditions with modern business risk is very clear.

Jam Watson stated that she loved how the exciting stories demonstrated the capabilities, outcomes and risk appetite (CORA) triangle. By understanding how projects are selected and implemented, project professionals can improve project success.

Content, Approach, Style

Project Management, Denial and the Death Zone is divided into an introduction and 14 chapters. The Introduction explains the motivation that prompted the author to write the book. It aims to provide hope, that the problem of project failure and its constant rate can be solved and fixed. Chapter 1 is titled the Constancy of Failure, which relates how people seem to be not learning from past mistakes. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are all about risks, people’s and organizations’ attitude towards it, and risk appetite. Chapter 5 discusses the CORA Triangle while the sixth chapter provides advice on how to manage risk appetite. The rest of the book continues to share stories, provide comparison to today’s environment, as well as offer advice and insight on how to use PM maturity, tools, practice and leadership to deliver projects with success.

Every chapter begins with an epigraph that provides the theme for that chapter. It has stories that are told in clear language and in paragraphs of readable length. It uses definitions, topic headers, images, lists and accurate referencing to provide not only insightful but also enjoyable reading. It also provides different units of currency, temperature and distance aside from the US standard to make it easier to grasp and imagine for those familiar with another standard.

Why Buy the Book

Project Management, Denial, and the Death Zone is a captivating book about how the lessons of past initiatives can help project professionals have a better understanding of risk and our attitude towards it. It also provides insights and advice on how it can be managed with concepts such as heroism, CORA, PM maturity and other tools and principles.

Books that Complement

The Power of Project Leadership by Susanne Madsen is an essential guide that helps professionals recognize and overcome many modern-day uncertainties and challenges.

David Pratt’s Great Lessons in Project Management is a collection of stories that can provide knowledge, awareness and techniques to help project managers navigate through problematic situations and avoid pitfalls.


Grant Avery is a certified PMP and registered Consultant in Project and Program Management. He received his MBA from Victoria University, New Zealand. He was Manager of Scott Base in NZ, and his responsibilities include science support, and search and rescue in Antarctica. Mr. Avery was team lead for the joint Antarctica search and rescue team for the US and New Zealand. He held various project management and senior management positions for various State and private organizations for more than 15 years, including Director at KPMG. He has overseen high-risk projects and programs, including over 100-ICT enabled projects worth more than $20 billion. Mr. Avery is the co-author of the current edition of the P3M3 maturity model. He is now the president of his own company, Outcome Insights, a specialized consultancy practice that provides success advice, QA advice and reviews for large and high-risk projects and programs.

$49.95 for the hardcover edition


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