Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


What’s your monorail?

As I mentioned previously, I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago with my family to do some sight seeing. When looking into local attractions, we'd heard about Seattle's Monorail and decided to find out more about it. However, the monorail wasn't open -- and, as we discovered, it never will be.

This was a grand idea when it began, but it became very controversial due to issues with cost, ongoing funding, and other issues. Many objections were raised, debated, and more. But the decision was made to move forward and begin building the monorail anyway.

Along the way, the funding situation got worse, and things stalled. The city of Seattle withdrew its support for the monorail system and, while they couldn't stop the project, they made it impossible to continue by refusing to make municipal land available to the monorail project.. As a result, the project was left with only a plan for the "Green Line" which never really got off the ground. Ironically, this reminds me of the Simpsons episode, "Marge vs. the Monorail."

It's easy to make jokes about things like this, but I think most of us have "monorail projects" in our lives:

  • Projects that sounded great at the start, but never got completed
  • Projects that ended up "costing" more than you intended and, therefore, became unsupportable
  • Projects that required cooperation from others that never materialized

I've got plenty of examples of these in my life, for sure. But what do you do about these projects? While we can learn a lot from the failure of the Seattle Monorail project, I think they also provide a good example of how to wind things down. Their project site now shows that they are now in the process of an orderly shutdown - something I'm not always good at when my projects fail.

What about you -- any monorails in your life? What have you learned from them?

By the way - the picture above is not a picture of the doomed Seattle monorail project - it's actually of a section of the Seattle Center Monorail, built in 1962 for the Seattle World's Fair. Even though this monorail was closed for repairs when we visited, it is supposed to open again in the future.

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