In skydiving we dirt dive the jump before getting on the airplane.
Dirt diving is practicing the skydive on the ground (the dirt).
An organizer designs the dive and assigns the team members their positions. Everyone walks to their relative positions and takes up the grip that they will take in the air (my right hand on her left leg, etc.). If there will be more than one formation (point) then (on a signal) we switch grips to form the new point. The dirt dive is repeated several times until everyone has memorized the skydive. Once practiced the organizer assigns an airplane exit order which is logical for the build sequence of the skydive. This exit order is tried with a couple more dirt dives and adjusted as needed.
Dirt diving is not over when i board the airplane. i practice my role in my mind repeatedly during the climb to altitude.
There are many “what ifs” that are generated during a dirt dive. Contingencies are planned for the “what ifs” so that alternative actions can be executed or improvised when things don’t go exactly as Plan A.
Planning and practice are necessary for any project. The computer is really good at “what ifs.”
When i first worked in the trade show exhibit business designers used markers on paper to render their exhibit designs. When computer programs like AutoCad became available the designers all wanted computers. Their argument was that rendering with a computer was faster and more efficient. What actually happened is the designers got lost in the “what ifs” that the computer made possible. Instead of designing for more clients they produced multiple options for the same design. This phenomena was not a total loss. The sales department liked bring multiple design ideas to each of their clients. If a client did not like one design they might like another. Today these designs can be rendered in multiple virtual flythroughs.
A friend of mine recently acquired the FreeStyle Libre blood sugar sensor system. It is a sensor that is attached to back of the arm. The sensor is a blood chemistry lab and computer memory system. It measures glucose every minute and records readings every 15 minutes. To take a reading of the sensor’s data he waves his smart phone over the sensor. The phone app downloads the data and presents it in the form of a graph over time. This computer system has eliminated his need to stick his fingertips four times per day to test blood sugar levels. More importantly, the graph is a real time dirt dive. It makes each day of eating and insulin injections a dirt dive for the next day. Over time my friend is learning more and more about how to keep his blood sugar levels under control.
i dirt dive everything i do.
When working on any project around the house i walk through it several times in my head before beginning. The project evolves as i discover possible pitfalls and alternatives.
In computer projects i often use multiple applications. My computer dirt dives consist of listing the apps i will use and ordering them for the project. For example, to write my bLog i dirt dive the following:
- Notes: write a rough draft and refine it for content and flow.
- Finder: copy the text from Notes and open Safari.
- Safari: navigate to my WordPress admin page, sign in, create a new post, then paste the text into the body of the web page.
- WordPress: find (using Google in Safari) and enter a featured image, a song of the week and various imagery for illustrations.
- Pixelmator: edit, compose, size and otherwise adjust the graphics that i use as illustrations.
- WordPress: Periodically save the webpage as a Draft. ALWAYS SAVE YOUR WORK PERIODICALLY.
- Safari: find relevant webpages, copy their URLs and paste them as links onto the illustrations in WordPress.
- WordPress: double check the text, formatting and links. Edit or correct as necessary.
- WordPress: publish bLog, then check for layout and content on the published page in Safari.
- WordPress: make final edits and republish.
- Mail: send announcements of the newest bLog to mailing lists created in Contacts.
- Safari: Use Linked-in and Facebook to announce the bLog.
The steps i take to write this bLog must be done in order or many of the steps must be unnecessarily repeated.
It is a good idea to draw out a project dirt dive with a pencil on paper or with a computer in the form of a flow chart.
This type of planning will save time and effort and, in the case of skydiving, make the experience safe and fun.
“Plan what you do and do what you planned” is not always simple, or easy.
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson.