Archive for October 1st, 2009

We’re getting back to basics.  It applies everywhere.  Even at Arlington Cemetery.

I wish you could have been there. I always look forward to visiting Arlington,  a truly reverential and patriotic place.  The next time you are in DC, start your visit there.  Recently, Barbara and I parked and walked up the hill to the Kennedy gravesites.

The view from Kennedy grave site across the Potomac

The view from Kennedy grave site across the Potomac

We paused at the graves of Jack and Jackie  Kennedy. Very dignified, with granite slabs and the eternal flame. More on the eternal flame later.

Jack Kennedy and the eternal flame

Jack Kennedy and the eternal flame

We walked down the hill to pay our respects to Bobby, who is buried about 100 feet away on a grassy knoll.  A small cross, very tasteful.

Then, it got interesting.  Our visit was the day before Ted Kennedy’s funeral.  I realized that he had to be buried near Bobby and Jack – but where?  There was an open hillside, but no clue as to Ted’s burial place.  No flag, no mark, nothing.

As we turned to leave, a group of people (a gaggle of suits?) swept past us, holding clipboards and radios.  I took their photo as they passed.

The site selection squad arrives

The site selection squad arrives

They fanned out over the grassy hillside, studying and talking into their radios and writing things on clipboards.  They appeared to be deciding where to bury Ted.

Picking the best spot

Picking the best spot

The dite selection is made - dig here.

The site selection is made - dig here.

After a flurry of pointing and talking, they all gathered at one spot.  This, it appeared, was it.  Ted Kennedy’s grave site.

Now, as a consultant, I wanted to know how this exact spot was chosen.  I am always interested in what metrics matter, be it performance management or hiring or whatever.  Why that spot?  Is it tradition?  Are there regulations?  The view?  A certain distance from Bobby and Jack?

I started to walk over and ask them that very question, but the solemnity of the occasion held me back.  Instead, I sidled up to the group as they talked and feigned interest in a nearby oak tree.  I overheard the answer.  One of the suits said to another suit “Well, that’s it.  Because of the easement of the gas pipeline for the eternal flame, it has to be here…”


What have I learned from this?  The metrics driving important decisions may surprise you.  It comes down to simple things.  Ted Kennedy’s grave location was apparently determined by plumbing.



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