The fourth and final segment of the four part Cirdan Blog Series: Three Not so Obvious Things I Learned from Ike – Posthumously… In this Blog Series, Cirdan President, Joanne Vatz shares her thoughts on what she learned from a unique monument building project gone wrong. Like many projects, it begins with all the best of intentions however without adequate governance it falls apart.
Lesson 3 –You Only Have One Life, Is This The Place You Want To Be? Choose Your Projects Carefully
This is a cautionary tale about the challenges a PM can face with a diverse and influential group of stakeholders. The history of monument design and build is a mosh pit of highly opinionated, entrenched and emotional stakeholders who argue and scheme till the bitter end about design aesthetics. Eisenhower family members, internationally renowned architects, government agencies, senators, congressmen, film stars and WWI vets, all with a vision of what the monument should be and a passion about that vision. Lots of experts coming at the design from different perspectives. It’s like arguing about who has the best tie. There is no consensus on scope or objectives because design aesthetic is a matter of taste. There is no ability to determine quality or completeness as a result.
It takes a tough and disciplined PM to maneuver this minefield of dissenting opinions, and it’s hard to see how one could actually satisfy such a diverse and powerful group. My question would be, why take on a hopeless cause? I would caution any ambitious PM to avoid these types of projects entirely.
The House is now considering a bill to replace that process with the public design competition standard for national memorials. Bob Dole has signed on to help with fundraising. I hope a monument gets built, I very much admire the man. But I would not take on this calamity and would not bet that it gets completed any time soon.
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