Thursday, January 3, 2019

Dangling participle


Still, as Hanson Baldwin summed up the Italian campaign, “All roads led to Rome, but Rome led nowhere.
Hanson Baldwin, Historian
describing the WW II campaign in Italy, 1943 - 44

Accomplishment without purpose -- a dangling achievement
And, the lesson for project managers is:
Beware the strategic objective that isn't actually strategic at all.
  • It looks strategic at the moment
  • It's called strategic
  • Perhaps just a tactical diversion?
  • We go "there", but the dots don't connect; or, can't be connected; or there's nowhere to go from here
AKA: "The bridge to nowhere"; a dead end; wild goose chase? Down a rabbit hole? A floating apex? Perhaps ... some may be just tactics that didn't work; the real issue at hand is strategy that doesn't connect well to business objectives

Value adding?
And so, even if it dangles, could achievement have larger strategic value in some way, shape or form?

Yes, and no.
Which is the fate of -- and means to recognize -- such dangles: arguments in favor and and arguments against; seemingly forever on both sides of the issue; each with proponents, unconvinced and unconvincing. (The campaign in Italy is still argued to this day .... why did we do it? **)

What if?
History can not be rewound and replayed; there are too many unseeable connectors and influencers that might come into play in the alternative narrative. But, the broad strokes of "what if" might be instructive, and so why not play it through?
  • We achieve the objective
  • Now what?

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Dangling participle? An actionable activity without an identified actionee

** Churchill's strategic vision was to defeat Germany from the east, through the Balkans, holding back the Russians from overrunning eastern Europe, and yet driving through East Germany to Berlin. The Italian campaign was a necessary entry into the Balkans, according to Sir Winston
Roosevelt's strategic vision was to drive through France for a quicker and more economical victory than slogging through the Balkans and challenging the Russians in the bargain.

In the competition of these two competing visions, Rome -- captured the day before D-Day in France -- became an objective achieved, but unconnected to the grand strategy (Roosevelt won the argument)



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