Like many, I watched the replays of William and Kate’s wedding that dominated TV for the past few days. They seem to be a nice couple and I enjoyed seeing them being happy together. I was also fascinated by the event itself. Flawlessly executed and praised by all, it represents a perfect example of what we all strive for in the asset management community.
Obviously, this was a unique and special event. They also spent $30 million dollars. So maybe I shouldn’t be impressed that everything worked out perfectly. But we have all seen unique and special asset management projects where a lot of money was spent to do it right, yet they were far less successful. Just think about the bumpy startups that are common after major facility shutdowns and the frustrations that often accompany the rollout of many new IT solutions.
Documenting lessons learned at the end of a project is always a good practice. So, what might we learn from the royal wedding? First, I think it validates the benefits that can be achieved through an emphasis on good planning and flawless execution. While the time between their engagement and the wedding was rather short, plans were still made with excruciating detail. Everyone knew to the minute when the bridal party would arrive at Westminster Abbey, depart for Buckingham Palace, and even kiss on the balcony. Likewise, everyone seemed to know their specific assignments, from the flower girls to the Queen. And interviews with various parties demonstrated how much the key groups practiced to ensure a perfect outcome.
The second lesson is more subtle, but probably more important – the wedding was a success because everyone wanted it to be a success. The British monarchy and government obviously wanted a perfect event to show the world that all is well in their country and that the future remains bright. The British people are rightfully proud of William and Kate and wanted a perfect wedding to showcase them to the world. The world views William and Kate as the perfect, fairy tale couple and wanted a perfect wedding to keep this dream alive. Given this environment, who could be surprised that a late flyover of planes simply became a cherished opportunity for a second kiss.
The challenges may be different for asset management projects, but the importance of engendering a desire for success is the same. Like the phrase – “There are no balls or strikes until the umpire calls them” – project success is always in the eye of the customer. Getting someone on your side beforehand is a lot easier than convincing them of success after the fact. More importantly, people who have a vested interest in your success will help you avoid failure, overtly and through tolerance for minor problems.