Leaders and Inspiration
All projects need a leader and all projects need followers. Projects also need inspiration from legitimate contemporary sources.
I was involved in construction of a new mill over a decade ago that was very peculiar. Somehow, a senior person in the parent company had convinced the Board of Directors to build the mill of his dreams. And, I must say, it was and is a beautiful mill. It probably cost $100 million more than necessary, but what's money when you are building your dreams and using other people's money?
This leader had gathered his inspirations over a long and distinguished career. No doubt, most of the features in this mill answered some problem or frustration he had seen over his lifetime. The only problem was this--others had leapfrogged many of the problems he had experienced with new ideas that, in some cases, eliminated the problem to start with. These new ideas "jumped the shark" and have fully eliminated the issue that was serious in times gone by.
It was nice the Board let him have his way, and, I have got to tell you, touring this mill is a delight. Yet, it is something like comparing an automobile of 1968 to one of today. In many cases, to continue this analogy, time and money was spent on building a better carburetor when the modern solution is to forget the carburetor and go to fuel injection. There are countless examples of this throughout the facility.
So, senior project leaders, the cautionary tale is this. Use your history of problems and solutions to carefully examine contemporary inspirations for those issues that drove you crazy 20 or 30 years ago. You just may save your employer $100 million.