Hobbies are meant to be fun, not an exercise in project management

One of my hobbies is building and flying radio control model aircraft. Not the small foam ones from K Mart but larger 2m wingspan craft. It is a lot of fun and usually very relaxing.

My birthday was a few months ago and for the first time on my birthday I was given a plane. Somehow my family read my mind and I ended up with exactly what I wanted! 

I have not spent a lot of time on this hobby over the last year or so. These days you can buy the aircraft in what they call ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) format where the plane really just needs final assembling, fitting the control gear and motor and it is done. It should take about 4 hours or so. This was the type of plane I was given and I was really looking forward to spending the day assembling the kit and finishing it ready to fly it the following weekend.

I wanted to fit an electric power setup and started to look through the plane to see if any modifications were required, there were a few mounting holes that had to be relocated, nothing major I thought.

I popped downstairs to get a few tools and get started. I began to drill some holes when trouble began. Where I wanted things to go interfered with the parts of the planes bulkheads, OK Plan B, no problems. Plan B required some different tools so another trip downstairs began, then another set of modifications took place.

Time to fit the motor: The bolts supplied were too short, another trip downstairs and I had none of the suitable bolts on hand. A trip to Bunning’s was fruitless. OK what else constructive could I do?

I soldered the power connections on the motor and though I could test out the control system. I needed to make up a power charging lead, another trip downstairs to get the soldering iron and pieces. Whilst that was heating up I went to find the right diameter connectors to fit the cable. None of them in the house either!

By now I getting a little bit annoyed and I had stopped having fun some time ago. I was mutterings words that you should not say in church and that would have appalled my mother!

What’s the point of all this?

I was committing some of the most basic, (but sadly incredibly common) mistakes made in manufacturing and project management.

Realising this I made my first sensible move for the day.

I stopped, walked away, and did some thinking!

What were some of my mistakes?

  1. I had no clear plan
  2. My plan had not anticipated problems that could have been foreseen
  3. Part Shortages caused me to change my schedule
  4. Chopping and changing my schedule wasted time, money, and sanity!
  5. Chopping and changing led to other mistakes and damage (left that part of the story out)

I see these same problems far too often in businesses and they all eat profits, hurt customers, and cause the people in the business to become frustrated, ineffective, and stressed!

Any endeavor in any business, large corporate or small startup  is a project.

All projects require a plan.

All plans should layout a logical sequence of events, possible disruptive events, and risk mitigating actions at a minimum.

This is how you have a chance to hit budget, timing and deliver the full result of your plan.

Project Management is NOT just a timing chart and a good idea!


Jason Furness

Owner at Manufacturship

These are the results we help our clients achieve. • Dramatic Operating Cash Flow Boosts • Industry Leading “Delivery In Full, On Time’ (DIFOT) • Exceptional And Improving Customer Quality • Surprisingly Rapid Safety Improvements • Structured And Scientific Boost To Financial Results • Class Leading Manufacturing Performance • Rapid And Real Improvements In Team Behaviour

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Comments (3)

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Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Great analogy! Thanks for sharing ^^

Phil Khor

Phil Khor , Founder at SavvySME

Great article Jason. As the saying goes, "If we fail to plan, we plan to fail". Thanks for sharing.

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