Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face!

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 12:49

Baz - The Landy



Photo: Baz - The Landy

Crikey, don’t go concerning yourself I’m not about to start throwing punches, but it I came across this quote recently.

And it is quite sobering, especially given it was from Mike Tyson.

Remember him?

I couldn’t think of anything worse than being on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson punch and I suspect he is quite correct in his assessment. But it did get me thinking of planning, given I am a bit of a planning type person, and how it might relate to travel in remote parts of Australia.

Whilst the degree of planning may vary from one person to another, I am sure that almost all of us have one in mind, whether committed to memory or in written form as we head down the driveway and out through the front gates.

Everything has risk attached to it!

The question is whether the risk can be managed to a level that is acceptable, firstly to you, and secondly, broadly acceptable to those who may be called upon to provide assistance if something goes wrong.

And I use the word broadly because it is subjective to make a judgment on what others might find acceptable.

To get around this, I use the “reasonable” test and ask myself the question – Would, on average, “reasonable” people find this a “reasonable” assumption to make?

Planning is the most important aspect of any trip and should be approached as a risk management exercise.

It is a time that whilst in the stress free environment of your home “living room” you can assess all aspects of the undertaking without the pressure of things crumbling around you, out in the field, and for which you have not developed a response.

A lot of focus is placed on equipment, vehicles, and communications; how much food and water needs to be taken along with the required fuel. And for sure these are all important aspects to any trip planning, falling under the heading of trip logistics.

But what about your health and fitness, and that of your travelling companions? Are you in suitable shape both mentally and physically for this specific undertaking?

What about expected weather conditions and how will you respond to changing conditions?

At what point do you call the trip off – what decision criteria have you established for this both in the time prior to departure and once it is underway?

This is an important one, as many people die, at worst, from the “press-on-regardless” mentality. We’ve planned this trip and we’ll complete it at all costs…regardless!

How can this be avoided?

Establish criteria to prevent it from happening!

No one ever wants to call off a trip, especially once underway, but it might be the best decision despite the disappointment. Having guidelines decided and agreed upon in advance takes much of the angst away from this type of decision making it easier to arrive at if faced with a particular circumstance.

And what about a point of no return decision? How many people consider this when crossing the Simpson Desert, for example or other remote areas.

Prior to arriving at this equi-distance point consideration should be given to whether the destination can still be reached, or is it wise to return to the previous checkpoint whilst you still have sufficient fuel and supplies to do so. There could be any number of reasons that might affect your decision; weather would be an important one for example. But there could be many others that should be assessed at this critical point before continuing on your journey. Once the point of no return is crossed the decision has been made and you are now committed to it regardless, possibly with dire consequences if not well thought out, or even considered.

Planning for a trip begins and ends at home

By the time you head down through the front-gate you should be confident in your endeavours and that you have thought out potential issues and how you will deal with them. By now you and your travelling companions should have committed to some form of template as to how you will respond to specific and non-specific situations.

Once underway, constant evaluation is required and progression of the trip should be compared to what you have planned and have anticipated in your planning – if it isn’t it needs to be evaluated against the impact it will have on your objective and you should already have a response for it…

Sure, there may be issues that crop up that you didn’t plan directly for, but you should still have a response planned for non-specific situations. In the instance of something that hasn’t been directly planned for you can still have a general response.

For example, is it critical to the successful completion of the trip and what is the implication of continuing or not continuing? Consideration should be given to the well-being of the group, or others that may be called upon for assistance, if the choice you make does not turn out as planned.

Often issues arise not because of a primary occurrence, but the impact it has as it cascades down through a number of scenarios and usually we receive plenty of opportunity to address these before they manifest into a much larger issue.

Have a plan, have a plan, and have a plan – that is my pre-trip mantra.

It is one thing to be confronted with an issue and possibly making the incorrect assessment or choice, but it is almost unforgiveable to not act and make any decision at all when something goes wrong…history is littered with the deaths of people who simply failed to act. Having a plan is a good way to avoid being in such a predicament!

How robust should our plans be and would yours withstand that “punch in the face”?


Cheers, Baz - The Landy
“Those who don’t think
it can be done shouldn’t
bother the person doing it…”
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