The construction of the Eiffel Tower, which started one year after Karl Benz had developed the first gas-powered automobile, was completed in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days, in 1889.
Back then the job title project manager didn’t exist, not to mention CAD, project management and other productivity software – and McKinsey was not around to support Gustav Eiffel’s decision making process (James O. McKinsey was born 2 months after the tower was completed), or Deloitte, to help him adjust his company culture to this unusual project.
Some dry data just to show a glimpse of complexity (more here):
- 18,038 metallic parts
- 5,300 workshop designs
- 50 engineers and designers
- 150 workers in the Levallois-Perret factory
- Between 150 and 300 workers on the construction site
- 2,500,000 rivets
- 7,300 tonnes of iron
- 60 tonnes of paint
- 2 years, 2 months and 5 days of construction
- 5 lifts.
This by itself may not mean much. Consider however, that it was completed on schedule!
We could of course go back even further in time and look not only at construction projects with much more aesthetic appeal (like medieval cathedrals or even more ancient structures) but also at successful military campaigns of incredible scale and complexity, or Empires that lasted centuries without an administration apparatus in the modern sense of the word, but I’ll spare you; just one point on this one: we can’t reproduce any of that – with all the leaders we have (everybody’s supposed to be one) and with all the technology at our disposal.
Would it make sense to stop rushing ahead with the next thing and consider what we’re missing?