Two of my close friends were on holiday in North Wales.  They decided to climb one of the most famous mountains there - Tryfan.  Following good practice the couple let someone know where they were going and the time they were due to return.  In the event they didn’t get in touch by the agreed time so the North Wales police were called.  The police started to look for them, they weren’t at their hotel but their car was found in a car park near the mountain.  The police decided therefore that it was likely that the couple were still on the mountain.  A PC was stationed near the car (in case the couple returned) and the Mountain Rescue Team were called.

The Mountain Rescue Team went into action – initially to decide where to look. Those mountains are big so it’s best to try and look in the right place! While looking up at the mountain from the road the rescue team saw a light moving up on the mountain.  The team flashed their own torches up at the mountain and received a response.  So the Mountain Rescue Team started climbing to find whoever was behind the light.  In due course they found my friends who were tired (they’d been on the mountain for ten hours by now) but well.  The Mountain Rescue Team walked my friends down off the mountain and all had a happy ending! But, it so easily could have ended differently. 

So that little project didn’t go exactly to plan unless you argue that the plan was to get up the mountain and back down again! 

What can we learn? The couple had planned their trip, they’d built in contingency (although some more would have been useful), they’d arranged a call in on return and they had the right equipment. Despite the planning the project didn’t go exactly to plan.  This can happen to any project however thoroughly it’s been planned.  We can learn lessons from this adventure because although this didn’t go to plan nobody was hurt and they arrived home safely.  So when we plan a project let’s –

  • Know where we’re going - make our objectives clear
  • Plan our route – identify the steps ahead.
  • Let someone know when we expect to be back - make sure we have a good reporting structure.
  • Follow the map, know where we are - monitor our progress, if we’re running late let’s know about it and not hide it.
  • Have contingency in place.
  • Understand the consequence of the project not going according to plan and take steps to reduce the impact of the project not succeeding.

This couple didn’t get back from the mountain when they wanted to but they did get back safe and sound due to carrying the right kit, knowing how to use it, the wonderful work of the police and the Mountain Rescue Team.

Our projects may not go quite according to our plan but let’s see the bigger picture and take the steps before and during the project to help it go well!