Joanna Lumley’s vision for a new London bridge

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 19.13.20Whatever you think of Joanna Lumley’s idea for a new pedestrian bridge across the Thames, it is surely remarkable that in a time of austerity she has managed to secure £60m of public money for the project (together with a guarantee to underwrite the potentially unlimited maintenance costs in perpetuity).

How did she manage to achieve this apparently impossible task? And what lessons might we learn from analysing her approach?

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 19.01.44For sure she has known Boris Johnson since he was four years old. But that would have made it equally easy for him to turn round and say “Come on now, Joanna. Stop being so silly.”

A key letter written in May 2012 and mentioned in her autobiography seems to have been a tipping point.

Let’s analyse and compare this letter against the lessons of Chapter 6 of inner leadership (on how to build a compelling or inspiring vision) and see whether there are any building blocks that we have forgotten.

Or, like Elon Musk, did Joanna leave something out?

Joanna Lumley's LetterChapter 6 Building Block
Dear Boris, Dear Mayor,
A thousand congratulations on being reelected mayor of London -- our cheers and shouts reached the rafters, soared above the Shard... Wonderful news for London!
1. Speak with your own authentic voice and 3. Make it relevant for your audience.

Lumley emphasises the close personal relationship.
Thomas Heatherwick and I would very much like to meet you in the near future to talk most earnestly about the idea of a BRIDGE, a green pedestrian bridge, with cycle tracks alongside, with container-grown trees: and beauty and practicality in equal measure.3. Make it relevant for your audience. -- Although the tone is informal, use of the word 'earnestly' shows that she is asking to be taken seriously, as does the underlining of Thomas Heatherwick's name.
6. Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation. Lumley briefly and clearly defines the finished project.
5. Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal: this project has two, his "beauty and practicality".
We have done a lot of groundwork as we had this idea several years ago.
Will you let us come and explain to you how it could be accomplished?
7. Shows that the project is possible and defines the first steps (to meet to talk about it).
It will be a boon for Londoners and visitors alike and will add to great loveliness of the Thames. 5. Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal.
Says why the project is needed.
Please say yes.4. Let people make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.
With warmest good wishes and salaams,
Yours ever,
Joanna
1. Speak with your own authentic voice and 3. Make it relevant for your audience.
Again, emphasising the close personal relationship.
PS
I think now is the time for this
4. Let people make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.
PPS
Many thanks for the tulips and Fourth Plinth photographs.
Again, emphasising the close personal relationship: 1. Speak with your own authentic voice and 3. Make it relevant for your audience.

Joanna Lumley uses all the building blocks from Chapter 6, except that she completely disregards building block number 2: “Describe the reality of the current situation.” Instead of describing the current reality and the problem that the bridge would solve, she takes the need for the bridge for granted and repeatedly emphasises, in tone and content, the close personal relationship between her and Boris Johnson.

That has got the project this far. But next month the proposed garden bridge faces a further obstacle with a full judicial review of the project. In order to convince others, with whom Ms Lumley does not have such close personal ties, it is this missing link of usefulness that will be needed.

The building blocks of Chapter 6 again seem to be vindicated.


Chapter 6 of inner leadership shows you how to build an inspiring vision using seven building blocks:

  1. Speak with your own authentic voice.
  2. Describe the reality of the current situation.
  3. Make it relevant for your audience.
  4. Let people make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.
  5. Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal.
  6. Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation.
  7. Define first steps (and show that they are possible).

Chapter 6 gives more details on each one.


Image source: The Guardian, 24 May 2015

Image source: @owenmeowenyou

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