Projects and Adventure Training – Exception Plans

What is a Project?

There are various definitions of what constitutes a project, but inevitably they are something along the lines of:

A piece of work that is designed to deliver one or more products within a particular period of time.

When we think about Project Management we often think about large scale engineering projects like the Channel Tunnel, Cross Rail, or the delivery of a new type of transport aircraft for the RAF. However, we can apply the principles of Project Management to everyday life and in my case that can mean to the delivery of adventure training activities.

The Product

I am currently coming to the end of a project. The output of this particular project will be the completion of a Practice Silver Duke of Edinburgh DofE expedition across Dartmoor. As part of the preparation for this I was asked to demonstrate that I had considered a range of eventualities.

As part of the training that the participants undergo, prior to an expedition, we cover topics like hypothermia, heat stroke, relocating after getting lost, dealing with the weather etc. So, within certain boundaries the participants should be able to deal with the conditions they encounter. However, there may be times when I need to make use of my experience and step in to change the nature of the expedition. For example it may turn out that the participants are not as fit as they thought they were and are struggling to cover the ground. Despite their best efforts it may become obvious that they are not going to reach the planned camp site. I might choose to step in and suggest an alternative camp site, or an alternative route.

In the realm of project management, the project manager is expected to manage the day to day running of the project and make any minor changes to ensure the smooth running of the project. However, these minor changes are governed by agreed tolerances. Once a tolerance is exceeded then the project manager should raise an Exception to the Project Board and suggest an Exception Plan.

Exception Plans in Adventure Training

The document I produced was essentially a series of exception plans created ahead of time. I needed to be able to demonstrate that I had plans in place in case of severed weather, in case of poor navigation and in case of poor fitness. I was able to show that I had thought of possible escape routes off the moor and back to civilisation, possible shorter alternative routes and possible alternative campsites.

Once one of these documents has been produced it should be a fairly easy task to update for future activities.

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