Thought for Thursday 1 June, 2017

Here is my “Thought for the Day”.

It’s funny how there is never enough time and money to do the job right, but there is always enough time and money to do it twice.

I have seen this thought in action many times during my life. From IT projects I was involved in, where the project time and budget was always under pressure even when great care was taken to plan properly. And how many times do people want a job done, get a number of quotes, then select the cheapest one, irrespective of the relative merits of the others? Also, when I had my property development company, I saw really shoddy workmanship with a medium (or even low) price tag. The developer just wanted to sell the stuff as quickly as possible and relied on the fact that, in a year or two, when things started to go seriously wrong, he’d be long gone. The buyers were suckered. One painting contractor I worked with took me to a site he was working at, and showed me the seriously poor quality of the brick work and plastering. He showed me a small apartment – about ninety square meters – and he’d had to use five bags of filler to get the wall finished smooth enough to paint. To add insult to injury, my profit margin was just over 15% for high quality finishes and that other developer was making between 80 and 90%.

Let the buyer beware! 

As an example of what can happen when the job isn’t done right the first time, consider the following true life example. The Lotus Riverside complex in Shanghai was made up of 11 buildings. The project was nearly finished by June 2009. Then one morning construction workers arrived and found one of the buildings had fallen over during the night. It was lying on its side, completely intact.

I found this extraordinary image at the following link.


What the engineers hadn’t taken into account was that there was a river edging the property – you can see it top right – and the ground nearby was very soft. The foundations of this building needed specially designed deep piles supporting a ‘raft’ of concrete on which the building was anchored. That wasn’t done, as you can see from the image, and the result was a building disaster. It is very fortunate that nobody had moved in yet. Paradoxically, the rest of the building had been strongly constructed, otherwise it would have broken up on impact.

About Dave Macfie

Dave Macfie is the General Manager and Lead Consultant of Unique Advantage South Africa, a consulting company specializing in creating unique business advantage from purpose, analysis, insight, alignment and action. Dave’s qualifications include a double honors degree in mathematics and physics and a post graduate certificate in education. (Cum Laude) His career spans forty five years of experience in IT, business, property development and high school teaching. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife Sandi and three of his seven children. Dave loves addressing business performance challenges, reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, gardening and spending time with his family.

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