Have a Plan – So you can change it.


Survey ships and boats

Survey ships and boats

Having a plan that you can change is so important.

If your plan is not flexible enough to cope with change, it probably isn’t a very good plan.

Back in the day when I was hydrographic surveying, we would be presented wit h “Daily  Orders”. A carefully devised plan created by the operations officer Warrant officer or executive officer.

As hydrographers we learnt to be flexible around these plans, knowing that by 10:00 am we would usually be up to “plan B” at least.

We worked in a very weather dependent environment, relying on machinery to lower and run survey boats and the helicopter, electronics to accurately plot our position and find the depth.

When we were on the survey ground with the support of a ship crewed by 120 men and women, the plan was always to cram as much into the day as possible to justify the huge cost of making navigation charts.

The ocean is a corrosive environment, hard on manmade objects. Take one piece of machinery or electronic equipment out of the plan and the plan had to change. Having options up our sleeve was part of the plan. Things like;

  • When the Helicopter was grounded, a crew was sent by inflatable boat,
  • When a navigation aid stopped working, move to a new location where the position fix was accurate,
  • When the boats Officer in Charge (OIC) got sea sick, send out a Senior Rating to do the Job,
  • When the survey boat found an uncharted rock before the Eco sounder operator, haul the boat out and change the prop.

The list goes on and on.

Having flexibility in your plan is the art of survival.

Yes, it is frustrating when a plan needs to change. It is important that the end goal is the driving force behind the new plan or backup plan.

I draw heavily on the fifteen years of Hydrographic Survey experience. It taught me to be flexible or “remain flaccid” as we use to say glancing at each other when another change came about.

I am currently juggling several projects at the moment.

Our family yacht is out of the water. The engine has been lifted from its engine mounts in order to change the sail drive gearbox rubber seal. While it was out the opportunity to paint underneath the engine presented itself. Unfortunately, the paint didn’t go off. I spent the next morning in the bilge wiping the unset paint out with acetone. Despite wearing the appropriate personal protection gear, this job left me useless for the best part of the rest of the day. Deadlines were missed and contractors had to modify their plans.

The end goal is the driving force.

So long as you are still moving towards achieving your end goal in the time limits set, the changes you have to make to your plan, are positive.

Don’t think for one minute that because your original plan didn’t work, you have failed. All dynamic plans have bumps in the road.

So make a plan so you can change it. Allow enough time.

If you have a story of your own about a plan you had to change in order to achieve the end goal, share it in the comments below.