Wednesday, 19 December 2007

7 Success Strategies from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, appropriately located in Italy's Field of Miracles, is one of the world's most famous pieces of architecture. But what has this iconic building have to do with success strategies? Bear with me, it will all become clear. That the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing is in itself a miracle and the first lessons can be learnt from why this building is leaning in the first place.

The answer to this question, which baffled engineers for centuries, is simple. It was built on a poor foundation. The soil upon which it was built was loose, sandy soil and not that needed to support any kind of building far less a monument of such stature.

The leaning actually started early in the construction phase and several attempts were made to rectify the problem. Special construction devices were used, columns and damaged parts were replaced but to no avail. The inclination continued because, despite their rigid appearance, buildings are dynamic. They react with their environment and because the underlying cause of the inclination had not been tackled, the effect was that the tower continued to move and to lean.

In more recent times, concrete was poured into the foundation to help stabilise it but alarmingly the building sank further into the ground. It took an international committee of which a key player was a Professor of Soil Mechanics from the London Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Professor John Burlap, to come up with a viable solution.

After anchoring the building, soil was carefully extracted from the North side causing it to sink on that side. It was a very delicate procedure because it was paramount that the building remained stable during this extraction process. The remedial action was set up so that the building could be carefully monitored and the position soil was extracted was altered where necessary so that the realignment of the building was controlled centimetre by centimetre.

Today, after an investment of $40M the tower still leans because to bring it to a completely vertical position would be out of character for the building. However, it has been shifted by 15 centimetres, restoring it to its 1838 position. This action is expected to prolong the life of this historic landmark for 300-400 years.

So what success strategies can we learn from this beautiful yet flawed building.

1. The first thing is, when starting on any endeavour it is important to start on a firm foundation.
2. Pouring of cement into the tower's foundation almost proved to be its undoing. Similarly, pouring too much 'stuff' into yourself or your business without careful consideration can be overwhelming and can do more harm than good. It's important to be strategic and focused.
3. Sometimes a subtraction process is more valuable or relevant that an addition process. What can you subtract that would significantly boost your performance and or that of your business.
4. Correcting mistakes can be costly. It may seem expensive at the time, but getting the right advice at the start of your project will pay for itself many times over.
5. Learn to look below the surface for solutions to your challenges. The problem with the tower lay not in the structure but in its foundation.
6. Think outside of the box when seeking solutions to challenges and learn to look to other industries for solutions that can be adapted to your situation.
7. Don't press on irregardless if you have evidence that what you are doing is not working. Construction work on the tower was stopped twice and it has now been determined that had workers not done this the tower would have toppled over before it was completed.

However, having said all this, if you have an idea that you believe in then pursue it. The adage that "you don't have to get it perfect, you just need to get it started" still holds and for many getting started remains one of the biggest obstacles to success.

Despite its flaws the Leaning Tower of Pisa is, nonetheless, a remarkable building. And, if you pay attention to the success strategies given here your enterprise will soar straight up or vertically just as it was originally intended for the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


  1. This blog is relevant to Success Strategies that there are seven strategies for success from the leaning tower of Pisa. I recommend that these strategies help for the development of the business quite effectively.

  2. Thank you for your feedback.


  3. It is interesting example you took leaning tower of Pisa. To explain Success Strategies. Yes I agree with you that Firm foundation is very important before starting any thing. I will be implementing these strategies in my business,thank you.

  4. In Poland we also have a leaning tower. It's even more leaned than this in piza ;P Just watch for Yourself