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7 Business Success Strategies from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Dec 25, 2007
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, appropriately located in Italy's Field of Miracles for it is a miracle that this monument is still standing, is one of the world's most famous pieces of architecture. But what has this iconic building have to do with business success strategies? Bear with me, it will all become clear. The first lessons can be learnt from why this building is leaning in the first place.

The answer to this question, despite baffling engineers for centuries, is simple. It was built on a poor foundation. The soil upon which it was built was loose, sandy soil and not that needed to support any kind of building far less a monument of such stature.

The leaning actually started early in the construction phase and several attempts were made to rectify the problem. Special construction devices were used, columns and damaged parts were replaced but to no avail. The inclination continued because the underlying cause of the inclination had not been tackled.

In more recent times, concrete was poured into the foundation to help stabilise it but, alarmingly, the building sank further into the ground. It took an international committee of which a key player was a Professor of Soil Mechanics from the London Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Professor John Burlap, to come up with a viable solution.

After anchoring the building, soil was carefully extracted from the North side causing it to sink on that side. It was a very delicate procedure because it was paramount that the building remained stable during this extraction process. The remedial action was set up so that the building could be carefully monitored and the position soil was extracted was altered where necessary so that the realignment of the building was controlled centimetre by centimetre.

Today, after an investment of $40M the tower still leans because to bring it to a completely vertical position would be out of character for the building. However, it has been shifted by 15 centimetres, restoring it to its 1838 position. This action is expected to prolong the life of this historic landmark for another 300-400 years.

So what business success strategies can we learn from this beautiful yet flawed building.

1. The first thing is, when building your business it is important to start on a firm foundation that is appropriate for your business.

2. Pouring cement into the tower's foundation almost proved to be its undoing. Similarly, pouring too much 'stuff' into your business without careful consideration can do more harm than good. It's important to receive strategic, accurate and focused advice.

3. Sometimes a subtraction process is more valuable or relevant that an addition process. What can you subtract from your business that would significantly boost its performance and multiply its results?

4. Correcting mistakes can be costly. It may seem expensive at the time, but getting the right advice at the start of your project will pay for itself many times over. As Benjamin Franklin said "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

5. Learn to look below the surface for solutions to your challenges. The problem with the tower lay not in the structure but in its foundation. Your business problems may lie in the invisible realm such as your mindset and or that of your employees.

6. Think outside of the box when seeking solutions to challenges and learn to look to other industries for solutions that can be adapted to your business.

7. Don't press on irregardless if you have evidence that what you are doing is not working. Construction work on the tower was stopped twice and it has now been determined that had workers not done this the tower would have toppled over before it was completed. Take time out to analyse and evaluate your progress and modify your business strategy where needed.

However, having said all this, if you have an idea that you believe in then action it. The adage that "you don't have to get it perfect, you just need to get it started" still holds. For many the quest for perfection rather than progress is one of the biggest obstacles to getting a business off the ground.

Despite its flaws the Leaning Tower of Pisa is, nonetheless, a remarkable building. It has been around for centuries and has had millions of visitors - a success that many businesses would love to emulate. And, if you pay attention to the success strategies given here your business will soar vertically just as it was originally intended for the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
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