Those familiar with the tragic events of the Costa Concordia and Captain Francesco Schettino, can appreciate that the story is not simply heartbreaking, but a reminder of what can happen if the correct processes and procedures are not followed.
My role as a Project Manager in a digital communications agency may not see me in charge of the lives of thousands, or sailing the open seas, but Project Managers are in charge of navigating a tight “project” ship. The mistakes that were made from the Concordia can be used to teach us all a few lessons.
Let’s start from the Captain’s perspective, Francesco Schettino. He should have had a clear scope of the project; its goal, objectives, tasks, resources and budget before deciding to change the ship’s route.
In Schettino’s case the scope was fairly straight forward: he was in charge of a humongous ship loaded with 4,000 passengers sailing for a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean, passing through a series of islands off the Tuscany coastline heading towards Genoa.
Assessing the Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies and capturing them in the RAID log
Based on the ship’s specifications and the potentially hazardous route, he should have captured a series of assumptions in his RAID log:
- The sea depth should have been greater than the ship’s depth
- The ship should have been kept to a safe distance from the coast
- The ship should have followed the recommended sailing route
Having a process in place to manage changes
In fact, no matter how tight you run a project, there is always a moment when you need to deal with a change of plan. And clients love to change things, all the time. Change is not a negative thing, as long as it is controlled.
So when Schettino decided to get closer to get a good view for the ship’s head waiter, who was native of Giglio, he didn’t pass the ‘change’ to the crew without assessing the risks.
We all know what the outcome of his naive move was and what price was paid. Thankfully in digital management, even if something goes massively wrong, obviously we don’t risk people’s lives.
So, what should have happened instead?
Schettino should have called a crew meeting and asked the following questions; how does this impact our schedule? What are the pros and cons? What are the risks?
The team would likely to have flagged up, that changing the route would have increased the navigation time and increased the fuel consumption with cost implications. You would hope there would have been some concern to keep a safe distance from the shore too.
With that information in hand, the captain, if still keen to go ahead, would have had to accept the cost and time implications as well as the constraints and risks.
Following this process, there would have been a different story: the Costa Concordia would have sailed by the Isle of Giglio and carried on safely to its destination.