I am a SCUBA Diver. As anyone who knows me personally, this has been a lifelong passion of mine. I enjoy each dive as I enter a different world, one filled with beauty, wonder and adventure and travelling the world to dive the ocean in different places, has created so many opportunities to experience different geographies, countries and cultures.
So what does this have to do with the work of LRN?
One of the basic principles of diving is that all divers should “Plan their dive…and dive their plan.” This essential tenet of the sport is all about planning, implementing and accountability.
Here’s what I mean:
When a diver enters the ocean, he or she is entering an environment that is hostile to human life. Divers are dependent upon their equipment as a life-support system. The ocean can, and often is, unpredictable. Divers who deviate from a plan while underwater, will often find themselves in situations they were unprepared for. Imagine a diver who descends to a shipwreck with a plan of just swimming around outside the wreck. Once there, if that diver decides to go inside the wreck he or she can quickly find themselves lost, disoriented and unable to safely return to the surface. Without the proper equipment and preparation, this type of deviation in plan can be hazardous. Plan your dive and dive your plan.
In business, the world can throw you curve balls all the time. Companies and cultures that are sustainable over the long term are those that don’t lose sight of their mission. They remain true to their purpose and are not deterred by distractions. Of course, changing conditions may dictate different strategies and tactics, much like changing ocean conditions can cause divers to alter their route underwater, but the over-arching mission and purpose of the business remain unchanged.
This is also about accountability. If your plan is to produce a certain deliverable, product or work effort, then executing that plan successfully is about accountability. If the company, or your customers or partners, are expecting that deliverable, changes in the plan will not be well received if that deliverable is delayed. Plan your dive…and dive your plan.
Finally, this is about trust. Divers are taught to dive with a partner because unpredictable emergencies can best be addressed with a dive buddy present. Divers who plan out their dive together need to trust each other that they will adhere to that plan while underwater. For example, divers may plan that if they become separated underwater, they will surface after a few minutes to regroup and ensure that each diver is safe. If one diver fails to adhere to this plan the results can be disastrous. In business, trust is essential to a thriving, healthy, innovative and sustainable business. Employees or colleagues must be able to trust another to deliver on their commitments. When this trust is honored, people take more risks and are able to spend less time “following up”, and more time innovating.
What I have written here does not mean to imply that following a prescribed path while being blind to obstacles, changing business conditions, or new opportunities, is the best way forward. What it does mean is that you should stay true to your mission and your purpose. Plan your dive…dive your plan.