Visualizing a ‘Brexit’ Project Plan

It’s enough to make any professional project manager’s skin crawl. The United Kingdom’s pending exit from the European Union – the biggest shakeup in Western statecraft since the fall of the Soviet Union – appears to be proceeding essentially without a plan.

David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, is stepping down before October. He’s said he won’t trigger Article 50 – the EU’s method for a member state resigning – in the near future; that’s up to his successor. And even when (or if) Article 50 is invoked, no one quite knows exactly how the “Brexit” itself will work – the rule has never been used.

So, theoretically, what could Brexit look like? We took a look at what led up to the “Leave” campaign’s referendum victory, expert analysis and Article 50 itself, then used Microsoft Excel and OnePager plan communications software to craft a visual representation of a hypothetical scenario (click on the image to enlarge).


In our Brexit plan, a new (yet to be named) Prime Minister triggers Article 50 on Oct. 1, 2016. This sets ticking a two-year clock for a formal severing of ties, including negotiations on the withdrawal itself and a new trade deal. Once struck, final deals are approved by the EU and UK parliaments in 2018.

Could it happen this way in real life? Our hypothetical plan is optimistic, but it’s absolutely a possibility. Of course, things could swing wildly in the other direction, with the UK and EU unable to find common ground. Or Brexit might not happen at all. After such a momentous (and unexpected) event, anything is a possibility.

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About Jim

Jim earned his PhD in applied physics at Harvard University in 1977 and has filled both R&D and executive roles at software-development companies since 1981. His employment history includes Texas Instruments, IBM, Landmark Graphics, and GuideWorks/Comcast. His roles have included Senior Member of Technical Staff at TI, Program Manager at IBM, Vice President of R&D at Landmark, Vice President of Marketing at Landmark, and Senior Vice President of Engineering and Development at GuideWorks/Comcast. He co-founded OnePager (originally Chronicle Graphics) in 2005 because he needed the tool himself and hasn't missed the corporate ladder ever since!

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