Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lessons in the Leaning of the Tower

Lessons in the Leaning of the Tower

What's or the Tower?

I just got back from my 30th anniversary cruise of the Mediterranean. One of the most fascinating places we visited was Pisa Italy. As an Quality engineer, I was very interested in the story behind the tower and why it is leaning. In learning, I discovered several parallels to creating a Safety Management Quality Assurance System. Here are the facts:

The Foundation:

First, the land. The location for the Church of Pisa, and the bell tower, was chosen because of the significance of the ground. The location was a cemetery. The land turned out to be marshy. In fact, the Greek word for marshy is Pisa.  

The Tower from the West side
The foundation of any system must be based on a corporate policy that is agreed to by all in the company and has the support of the CEO and upper management. Policy is what we are going to do. Once we all agree on what we are going to do, then we begin to build upon that foundation as to how we will accomplish our goals and objective. The leaning tower’s foundation was not able to support the objective...but, they when ahead a began building on a faulty marshy foundation. 

“Construction of the tower occurred in three stages across 344 years. Work on the ground floor of the white marble campanile began on August 14, 1173, during a period of military success and prosperity. This ground floor is a blind arcade articulated by engaged columns with classical Corinthian capitals.
The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-metre foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning.” Wikipedia 

Columns expanded to compensate causing
the tower to be "banana" shaped.
Building on a Flawed Foundation:

In 1272 construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone, architect of the Camposanto. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other. Because of this, the tower is actually curved. Construction was halted again in 1284, when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria.
Trying to fix a flawed system only made the curve of the tower worse. One of the key decision management must make is this. If a system, process or program has problems, do we continue and try to fix the flaws or should we scrap the project and start new. The  Tower is a tribute to poor engineering decisions over and over. 
Recently in 2002, the best structural support was accomplished with the combination of Sub-terrain excavation of the north side and the additional of foundation counter weights. The tower is open to tourists but, still leans as do all the structures in the Pisa square. 

Prospective of the Tower
Your Management System must be based on Policy that reflects your actual commitment to Safety and your customers. This is the foundation. Then you must plan how you are going to build on this policy. Procedures must be made to standardize the operations within the enterprise. These procedures must be followed, analyzed and continuously improved. Then each member of the team must take “ownership” of their processes. It is ironic that in the 12th century where sculptors, artists and artisans signed all their work.....the Leaning Tower has no person that claims responsibility for its construction. “The Tower of Pisa was commissioned by the city of Pisa. We're not completely sure about the real identity of the architect. Originally, Guglielmo and Bonanno Pisano were credited with the design.” wiki answers

Your thoughts........

NOTE: For the greatest lessons in implementing an SMS/QA System, you need to take a vacation to DisneyWorld Sept 29-Oct 2 2012. The Tools of SMS/QA Symposium has 2 top speakers, 3 QA/SMS Workshops, Free Airport transportation, DisneyWorld park discounts, Free Disney catered Breakfast each day, Coronado Resort Hotel on DisneyWorld Property, free Disney park transport and discounts. 

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