Sunday, October 16, 2011

How late can we celebrate?

On 26 September 2011, Boeing delivered the first 787 Dreamliner to airline ANA after a three year delay. The aircraft is a technological achievement unmatched in aerospace and will create a customer flying experience like no other. The event was celebrated.

The 911 Memorial officially opened on 11 September 2011 after ten years of debate, design, coordination and construction. “The Memorial is a national tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,983 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.” The event was celebrated.
This weekend, an international team under my leadership achieved an aerospace manufacturing milestone of large implication, significance and meaning. While the project concluded one year late, it has the potential to change the face of aero-structure assembly for years to come. The event was celebrated locally with no fanfare or drama.

Should a significant accomplishment be celebrated in the same way whether on time or significantly late?


ken kuang said...

Yes, all achievements deserve celebration. If the project is late, after celebration, the team should take a somber look at the planning and execution.

Kirsten Parks said...

All accomplishments must be celebrated in some form or fashion. If they are not most will feel unfulfilled and probably unapreciated. I like informal recognitions along the way and then holding a more formal celebration upon completion. It means a lot to those involved.

David Armstrong said...


I agree with the other posters - accomplishment should be celebrated. However, timeliness of completion might be factored in, in a couple of different ways, depending on the circumstances.

For example, lets say you are opening new facility, something you have done before and have a defined blueprint for the process. Obviously, there should be a defined timetable which you are expected to hit, yet you miss it. You should still celebrate the completion of the project, but maybe downplay the timing portion. Chances are people are well aware of that, but the project still got done.

On the other hand, the three projects you describe all were initial thrusts, in a sense "going where no man has gone before". I'm sure unanticipated obstacles were overcome and new learnings gained. Yes, the projects were late, but they were completed and lessons learned with be added to the body of knowledge to build on move forward.

John Bishop said...

Great insight so far. Thanks.

There are definite lessons to learn here. Off-line I can share the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say.

Steven Zalesch said...

There are three types of schedule: critical, cost-related, and arbitrary. If Patton had been late in breaking the siege in the Battle of the Bulge, his late arrival may have meant defeat rather than victory. Cost-related schedule failure always has implications to program success; sometime critical, sometimes not. Missing an arbitrary deadline is never important to anyone other than the planners and leaders whose reputations are invested in them.

Failure to meet schedule always can have two sources. Management always assumes underperformance by the team. Inreality, a bad (impossible to achieve) plan may be the more frequent problem.

With all that background, perhaps we are now in a better position to discuss whether to celebrate.

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