am reading "The Secret of the Great Pyramid” by Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre
Houdin (Harper Collins, 2008), after hearing an interview with Brier on
National Public Radio:
constantly stresses the crucial importance of top-notch management in getting
things done. One of the main contributions of good business schools is that
they teach the all-important skill of getting things done. It is one thing to
develop concepts, ideas, or to fund sometimes huge projects. In order for such
plans and projects to translate into results-on-the-ground requires not only
leadership but competent management at all levels. Here are some of the
daunting issues ancient Africans were facing:
- Supply chain management: several boats each hauling 40
tons of limestone, 100,000 tons of stone, harbors, houses, canals, miles
of thick rope, thousands of copper chisels totaling 250 tons, kilns, lots
of donkeys, security protection against "barbarians” along the 9-day
journey from the mines, half a million tons of gypsum for mortar.
- Technology: for example building and
operating a counterweight system to haul large stone blocks up mile-long
- Tolerances: you can’t insert a razor blade
between stone blocks, Great Pyramid’s perimeter accurate to 1/100 of an
- Time management: work in the quarries had to begin
ten years before the start of on-the-site construction. Many other prior
steps needed to be precisely timed.
- HR management: workers were not slaves:
forensic analyses show they were fed meat, a luxury in their time.
most impressive: workers hauled stones up ramps, while empty "sleds” descended,
as on a two-lane highway. For years, one stone was laid, and laid in exactly
the right place, every few seconds. How is that for management? Once this
planning and management organization was in place, it became possible to scale,
so there are over 100 pyramids all over Egypt. The lesson for today’s world?
world is full of people with good ideas, but only those who know how to "get
things done” make things happen.
schools have a huge role to play in fostering economic and social progress, not
least by teaching "how to get things done”.
Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO and founder of the Global Business School Network.