Out of tiny acorns….. mighty projects grow!

By Alison Smith.

Many of you will be familiar with the television programme called The Apprentice. This started initially in the US with Donald Trump pitting the ‘Street smarts’ against the ‘Book smarts’. Since it began there have been several versions of the show all around the world.

Here in the UK, Lord Alan Sugar is the business tycoon who does the hiring and firing. This year is series 8 of the popular show with contestants looking to receive an investment of £100K into the winners own business. Each week it seems that someone makes the most incredible business decisions – sometimes good, but often very bad!

Back in series 3 the Grand Finale Simon and Kristina – the 2 finalists had to put together a proposal for the redevelopment of a site currently occupied by the IBM Building on London’s South Bank. This site was purchased for £120m by Sir Alan Sugar. The task involves the designing of a major landmark building that is both profit-making and has an iconic design.

The Shard. Picture courtesy of http://www.londonbridgequarter.com/the-shard/overview

As the UK prepares to celebrate HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee next weekend, and also soon the London 2012 Olympic games this idea is almost at completion. The world now knows this building simply as The Shard as it is like a large shard of glass standing close to the Thames and seen from most of London especially in the sunshine that we are experiencing this week.

In business and in projects, people often make rash, or hasty decisions in the heat of the moment. The key question for me is when you have a project how do you keep it on track to achieve the original goals of the Business Case?

With the Shard because of its large proportions they built as much as they could on site or from the ground up, but for the last few hundred metres they practiced how best to construct the top or as others would say how to cap the building for completion. This was not done onsite as the rest of the building was… this was in fact practised in a field in Yorkshire this spring.

They ran simulations of how best to get the materials up to the top of the tallest building in London – the answer was the highest ever crane which was built onto the side of the building. They also practised how to cope with large panes of glass in windy conditions – due to the height of the building the wind speeds are much greater.

In your organisation someone’s good idea needs to be taken forward but how? How do you get to done without going completely over budget or spending precious resources on an idea that simply won’t work?

As for me I will be further down the Thames at Hammersmith on Monday evening watching a recording of The Apprentice – You’re Fired! Courtesy of www.lostintv.com to see what happens in the next round of the programme and hopefully learning from others mistakes!

Will you learn too?

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