Management Lessons in the pyramids?
5000+ later, the same principles hold true
I’ve always been fascinated with pyramids. Not just because they are big or old but because they tell us a story for centuries. They symbolize the grandeur of the time, 5000 years ago. After multiple failed plans, I finally visited Egypt last month and saw the pyramids and many other great monuments of the time. The leadership approach back then is still so relevant, 5000 years later.
The leadership and management of the pyramid construction show many principles that still hold. So let’s take a look at the top three lessons:
Lesson 1: Think BIG
With no technology, sophisticated tools, and the machinery of modern times, how did the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids? Well, they discovered the air vacuum technique to bind the stones to each other. The giant boulders were arranged so that they were still standing tall with no adhesive holding them. The only structures visible from space, these structures have stayed the test of time. They symbolize the BIG thinking that we want to embrace, even today.
Lesson 2: If unsatisfied with the results, stop and start afresh
If unsatisfied with the results of a significant investment, don’t let good money chase bad money. Stop it and start afresh. You’ll get what you want and not be dissatisfied.[Learn from your mistakes]
We all know we are attracted to stories we can relate to or appreciate. Back to Giza, Egypt….our guide suggested we start at Sakkara and Dahshur before going to Giza. We wanted to follow the timelines as the pyramids were built.
At Dahshur, we saw the two well-preserved pyramids, the first of which was built between 2613–2589 BC under the rule of King Sneferu. The architect started this pyramid to build a smooth-sided pyramid with Yellow limestone but miscalculated the structural weight placed on the soft ground. The enormous blocks used to construct the pyramid did not have their weight distributed appropriately. The pyramid angle was off-kilter, so the pyramid construction was abandoned.
King Sneferu then commissioned another pyramid with red limestone, where the architect corrected all the mistakes from the previous build, now called the “Red Pyramid.”
Later the Yellow limestone pyramid was completed and is now famously known as the “Bent Pyramid.”
Lesson 3: Imperfections are not all bad — they tell a story, and stories sell
A story makes an event/place memorable and gives you pause to think. What would the world be without the leaning tower of Pesa and the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur? Major blunders that withstood the test of time are now famous as they have a story.
Although frowned upon by many, imperfections have a way of sticking to the memory. They are relatable, and at a subconscious level, we all identify with the flaws. There is no better example than during the pandemic when homemade videos beat studio-produced content on media. They showed authenticity and were relatable to what everyone was going through; dogs running in the background, kids screaming on the side, no hair styling for months, barely any makeup, and a camera to look at, so who cared what shoes or pants(or not) you wore?
So don’t let an imperfection hold you back; tell the exciting story behind it and connect with your audience. This way, you’ll make an impression that lasts long after you’re gone.
Egypt is a must-see place; make sure to see the Pyramids. They are standing testament to the grit and magnificence of a time, thousands of years ago, that still inspires and teaches us important lessons.