Max Wideman first wrote about the Leaning Tower of Pisa back in December 1999 in a tongue-in-cheek "Max's Musings" entitled Risk: Failure or Opportunity? In it he used the example to show how an apparently dismal project failure can turn out to be a resoundingly successful opportunity. Now, Kimberly Gerson has kindly done some serious research on the "Pisa Project" and presents it here for your enlightenment.
Published here April 2003.

Introduction | The Vision | Where Angels Fear to Tread 
Indecision Leads to Inaction | Lessons Not Learned | Not On My Watch 
Where So Many Others Have Failed | References

Indecision Leads to Inaction

Over the next eighty years the city-state of Pisa was preoccupied with internal conflict and external wars. There was little time or resources to invest in reinitiating the project. Occasionally, between crises, on days when life was calm, Pisan officials would look out onto the Piazza and notice the patient tower, just sitting there, reminding them that they had unfinished business to attend. This reminder would jolt them out of their lassitude and they'd convene their engineers and put them back to work to solve the leaning tower dilemma.

But time after time the recommendations were divergent and the correct course of action murky. Where one expert would recommend an entire rebuild, another would recommend continuing with the current process. Where one engineer would advocate digging and trenching, another would press for filling and lifting. Officials, befuddled by the conflicting expert assessments and not willing to take a risk, were at a loss. So, rather than make a wrong decision, they'd make no decision at all and would quietly push the Tower of Pisa to the back burner.

Now maybe, had they not invested so much money and emotional energy in it, the Pisans might have torn down the partially erected structure and moved on with a refreshing new project. But initial investment and the lingering promise of future glory still drifted around the tower, despite its tilt. Nobody wanted to be responsible for permanently dashing the dream of Pisa.

Where Angels Fear to Tread  Where Angels Fear to Tread

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