Nailing Jello to the Wall

Back in April of 1912 Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “Like nailing jelly to the wall”. By the 1960’s the phase had become “Like nailing Jello to the wall” and has come to describe a task that is very difficult because the parameters keep changing or because someone is being evasive.

Earlier this year we were awarded a project to design & engineer an addition to a facility in Fort Wayne. This client was, and still is, great to work for, but the project has taken on the characteristics of nailing Jello to the wall. From the start of the planning process to the time of the contractor’s bids, we often heard “We will get back with you on that question”. Working with the client, we successfully got through the design, documentation and bidding process, but it certainly was “Wiggly & Giggly” at times.

So how do you keep your next facility project from feeling like wiggly giggly Jello nailed to the wall?

  • Set parameters needed to solve the problems the project faces early on. This begins with working together as a team to gather the project parameters and constraints (“programming”), understanding their function and establish their priority ranking. This makes the process of finding the best solution easier.
  • Embrace the idea that compromise does not have to be a bad thing. It only becomes bad when you compromise without purposefully knowing you are compromising. Understand that “perfect” just may be the bigger stumbling block to the success of the project.
  • Limit input on any issue to only staff and consultants that have a direct influence over or experience in that area. Everyone has an opinion, so seek the opinions and guidance from the people that the question effects.

PDMi has seen a lot of “Jello nailed to the wall” over the years; give us a call if we can be of any help on see to it that your project will not be one of them.


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