Intention and Follow Through

Civil War

The Civil War

It was the United States Civil war, the battle was Gettysburg.  There was no doubt, General Meade had the intention to defeat Robert E. Lee.  In the end General Meade was victorious and his congratulatory order to the troops was also sent by telegraph to the War Department (and would be read by Abraham Lincoln). The crux of the message was the invaders had been driven from our soil.

Later, President Lincoln would meet with General Mead:

Do you know, General, what your attitude towards Lee after the battle of Gettysburg reminded me of?” Meade replied: “No, Mr. President – what is it?” Lincoln said: “I’ll be hanged if I could think of anything else but an old woman trying to shoo her geese across a creek[1].

Follow Through

In the President’s mind, Meade had left the job unfinished.  He had not pursued the rebels after the battle.  General Mead had good intentions, he performed well, but the fact was he did not follow through or in this case follow the rebel army and finish the job.

Intention and Follow Through

This same sort of thinking can permeate a project management organization as well.  In the best of circumstances the project manager and team revel in the immediate win and may not see there is much more to be made of the situation.  Under the worst conditions, the project flails and is unable to cobble anything that looks like a victory due lack of follow through.  This applies to more than just project management.

I meet plenty of people that want write a book, but lament finding he time or start and are unable to follow through.  These become the bane of any effort.  

Any endeavor is well advised to follow through. Good intentions or half done often will cause a project to flail or bring a project to bitter consequences and failure.  If it is important for project success, stubbornly, doggedly pursue to the desired end.

[1] Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Volume II, p. 512.

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