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Welcome to the June issue of Voices on Infrastructure, a collection of insights on improving the odds of success for major projects.

Major projects—those defined as having a value of more than $1 billion—account for an increasing share of global construction spending. In 2014, major projects accounted for 21 percent of global construction spending, up from just 4 percent in 2005. However, major projects are especially challenging. They are multilayered, nonlinear, frequently in remote locations, and often highly regulated. As a result of these conditions, their productivity tends to suffer.

This issue of Voices explores how to buck this trend. We look across sectors at the key enablers of success for major projects and ask big questions: As major infrastructure needs continue shifting to developed markets, how can we connect these projects to much-needed private sector financing? What is the role of government in supporting and scaling notable major project outcomes?

We hear from CEOs on the bets they’re placing for long-term success, such as pursuing new commercial strategies, prioritizing culture and talent development, and investing in digital innovation.

In addition, we explore critical levers for improving project delivery. As major projects continue to grow in number, size, and complexity, owners and contractors who wish to see long-term success must embrace more collaborative contractual structures, apply digital tools throughout the process, and define clear road maps for recovering distressed projects.

We hope the insights collected here help spur new ideas about major project innovation and scale best practices in your own organizations and geographies.

Michael Della Rocca
McKinsey & Company

Stefano Napoletano
McKinsey & Company

More Articles


Technology is disrupting construction on multiple fronts. What are the consequences for infrastructure-investment managers?

Fredrik Dahlqvist, Alastair Green, Paul Morgan, and Robert Palter, McKinsey & Company


By understanding the full suite of potential BIM benefits and hiring the right people to oversee project-wide implementation, engineering and construction players can better leverage this nearly ubiquitous tool in major projects.

Doug Brent and Chris Shephard, Trimble, and Dennis Shelden, Georgia Institute of Technology


Tony Hansen, Global Infrastructure Initiative


Construction projects have traditionally been founded on risk, not collaboration—a root cause of the sector’s low productivity. At the 2017 GII Summit, McKinsey partner Michael Della Rocca joined leaders from Atkins, Bentley Systems, and King Abdullah Economic City to discuss how relational contracting and shared incentives can create better outcomes for infrastructure and capital projects.


What elements lay the groundwork for “smart infrastructure,” and how can the public sector drive them?

Tony Meggs, UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority


Leaders don’t want their projects to be in a turnaround situation, but that often happens. Here are some tactics for resolving problems quickly.

Mark Kuvshinikov, John Levene, and Filippo Rossi, McKinsey & Company


In an era fraught with change, senior partner Robert Lewis and partner Jose Luis Blanco spoke with Jacobs chairman and CEO Steve Demetriou about how E&C companies can set themselves up for success.

Steve Demetriou, Jacobs


By mitigating key risks of investing in major infrastructure projects in emerging markets, banks, governments, and international financial institutions can close the funding gap in developing Asia.

Sir Danny Alexander, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank


Full implementation of integrated project delivery (IPD) or other forms of alliance contracting isn’t for everyone. But everyone can and should implement collaborative contracting practices today to improve project outcomes.

Lukasz Abramowicz, Jim Banaszak, TG Jayanth, and Homayoun Zarrinkoub, McKinsey & Company


Larsen & Toubro CEO SN Subrahmanyan sheds light on how he’s seen digital technologies, particularly sensors, evolve the major projects industry.

SN Subrahmanyan, Larsen & Toubro

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