Navigating the Crosswind Compromise

This post is a follow on from the Crosswind Compromise. In that post, I was inspired by a video of Viktor Frankl discussing the impact of crosswinds on our lives. I drew parallels with an organisational context.

My followup question is what does a pilot do to ensure he gets to the destination?

The pilot does at least these three things:

  1. Finds a map of the terrain he is flying over.
  2. Gets the latest meteorological (weather) information.
  3. Creates his flight plan.

The Map

The map as example provides the following information:

  • Where you are starting.
  • Where you are going to.
  • What lies between, for example, what is the highest landmark?
  • What airspace are you allowed to fly in or through?
  • What other airports are en route if you need to divert?

Meteorological Information

The weather services provide other kinds of information, for example:

  • What cloud cover is there? How high is it?
  • What are the winds doing at different altitudes? What direction are the winds blowing and how hard?
  • What is the forecast? How might it change during your journey?

The Flight Plan

The flight plan is created using all the above information. For example you decide:

  • Whether you are licensed to fly in the current weather;
  • If the forecast allows for the safe completion of the flight;
  • Whether you can reach your destination in one stop;
  • Whether you to fly over a mountain range or around it, taking into account the available airspace;
  • What your alternate airports are if needed;
  • What your heading needs to be based on the wind direction and speed at a given altitude and at different points in the journey. You need to be constantly adjusting as you go.

The pilot makes a plan based on all these inputs and constraints. By following this plan the pilot knows he will reach his intended destination unless something unlucky happens.

In your environment and context?

What maps do you have?

On your projects do you always know where you are and where you are going?

Do you know what your biggest obstacles are? Can you go over them or around them?

What rules, cultural, legal or otherwise exist that will frame your progress?

If something unlucky happens on route what is your exit plan?

What local weather information do you have?

What organisational politics are in play creating headings, tailwinds, or cross winds?

Where do you need to be aiming at different points in the project?

Have you created your plan?