Every sport has its own lingo and scuba diving is no exception. For example, you will hear one diver say to another, what’s the viz? In other words, what is the visibility when you are under water. But what comes to my mind most often is “plan your dive, dive your plan”. My scuba instructor drilled that into my head.
Why do I think about this so often? It applies to almost every project I manage at work and probably the same is true for you. You need to create a plan for each project and then follow your plan!
When you start a project, you need to define it. This includes creating objectives, outlining the scope of the project and incorporating feedback from the stakeholders. Next you need to create the project plan which details how you will meet those objectives through discrete tasks starting from project kickoff until the final delivery. Part of the plan will be a timeline with a cushion for the unexpected delays and problems that will inevitably come up. In addition, your plan must include a list of deliverables and most importantly the KPIs that will tell you if you have been successful or not. It is vital that you determine your success metrics at the start and that they are consistent with your objectives.
Once a plan has been developed, reviewed and agreed upon, you need to follow it. So often interesting findings in the data try to lure me away from my objectives. It’s as if the data is populated by sirens calling to me as they did Odysseus, as he tried to return home to Ithaca. I don’t mean you should ignore interesting findings if they merit exploration but you have a choice. You can revise your plan to reflect them or make exploration of these interesting findings part of a subsequent project or phase. Be sure to fulfill your original objectives before moving onto something else.