Leadership Is The Art Of Accomplishing The Impossible. So, What Is No One Has Ever Done It Before

Leadership Is The Art Of Accomplishing The Impossible. So, What Is No One Has Ever Done It Before

I worked for a large company that had a large plant. The plant was separated by a major state highway that split the production areas from the distribution warehouse area. The company had put an enclosed tube with a case conveyor over the highway connecting the two highway divided facilities.  The cases would right through the tube into the distribution center. The company was expanding and room was needed for two major production lines and more storage space. At first the company went to their local state representative asking for permission for the state to consider closing the highway and rerouting traffic. The plan was to put a new complete building the highway and add more production lines and storage space. Both buildings would now be connected to a new building in the middle. The state representative objected and cited all sorts of hurdles that had to be overcome to close the highway. He stated that it would be impossible and that local opposition might be fierce.  We were however undaunted by his pessimism.

I was directed to develop a plan for the new building, the layout and estimate the cost. We knew we had a very difficult task ahead of us. We developed blueprints for the building but I suggested that we create an interior model of the building and three-dimensional pictures of how the building would look when finished. We put together a presentation of the building in a small folding three ring binder. We contacted the state governor and office of business development to engender more support. The business development office was enthusiastic. Next, we built the interior model of the building to scale and put it on a large table in a large conference room. Then we invited our own employees to visit the conference room with the scale model, play with the layout and make suggestions. We received many helpful suggestions that we immediately deployed in the model and the building plans. The employees continued to give us unsolicited ideas.

We then personally visited each house along the route that the highway was going to be diverted to and explained the concept and what the building was going to look like. We invited them to take a personal tour of the plant and most of them toured the plant. There were no objections from the home owners.  Within a month the state business development office informed us that closing the highway had been approved by the state transportation department. Our next step was to get approval from corporate for capital funds. Capital money was tight that year, so we created a plan that only showed half the building and its layout. We did bring the plan of the whole building with us and the cost estimates.

The capital committee was so impressed with the building layout and the work that we had done that they asked to see the layout of the entire building. They approved the money for the entire building. Yes, we did invite the state representative who said it would be impossible to reroute the state highway to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Leadership is the art of accomplishing the impossible so what if no one Has ever done it before.

Lessons Learned

  1. Do not give comfort to naysayers and pessimism.
  2. Always involve people who actually do the work.
  3. Create models whenever feasible.
  4. Visit and personally talk to all the stakeholders.
  5. Be prepared for good fortune.
  6. Never reject any suggestions or ideas out of hand.

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