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Dean's Blog

A stitch in time saves nine

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They say it’s better to deal with crisis now rather than wait. Procrastinating allows problems to accumulate and exponentially increase the resources required to resolve issues.


They also say that something well managed and measured performs better than something left in the hands of chaos.

1.    Lessons learned


At the beginning of my career I learnt many lessons about myself, the job at hand and the difficulties of managing people and projects. The management of people and projects is a skill that takes time to foster and unless you know your job well, the work process and expected outcomes it is very difficult to be effective as a team leader.

2.    Mastering your trade and yourself


Mastering your trade, yourself and freely acknowledging your own actions have the potential to cause failure, eventually matures people enough to know that a new lesson awaits and that the best solutions are obtained within a team environment.


3.    Effective manager level crew


An effective manager level crew member is very good at magnifying the effort of individuals, building teams and coordinating resources according to prevailing circumstances.


Leadership is about situational awareness, utilizing every means available to achieve success, motivating people, sharing success and having the strength to carry the burden of failure on your own shoulders.

4.    Developing a work plan


A work plan with realistic time lines, sufficient resources and well defined parameters immediately becomes obsolete when work commences, because unforeseen issues and problems outside your control negatively and positively effect progress.


The successful completion of tasks and critical milestones requires intelligent manipulation of resources.


Developing a simple bullet point work list and then quantifying precisely what you know and don’t know about the tasks being performed, builds a network of information that highlights:


             I.      A clear task succession

          II.      Critical milestones

       III.      Resource requirements

       IV.      Safety priorities

          V.      Un-quantified aspects of the work plan which need further investigation

       VI.      Useful information that is discoverable when columns are sorted differently to expose useful data

    VII.      Workplace congestion

Work plan example









Define the task concisely

Define exactly what is being worked on

Define location of the task on  & off the boat

Define safety & protection requirements of workers & workspace

Provide an achievable time period with an expiry date

Define the task succession by activity sequence

Define man power, materials, facilities & specialist tools or contractors

Note: sorting the document by various columns uncovers dormant information. For example sorting by Area will pinpoint which area has the most work occurring and greatest potential for congestion.

5.    Measuring progress & anticipating change


A strong ability to measure progress in not enough, progress must always be measured in a tangible way.


Anticipating change becomes exponentially easier when you have tangible facts and a forward facing plan. Looking ahead and searching for dormant bottle necks occurs when people work together and tunnel vision is removed from the equation by viewing issues form varied perspectives.

6.    Delegation of responsibility


Delegation of responsibility is an unnatural process for people that lack confidence. Team leaders that are running short on experience, struggling to achieve results or lamenting decisions should learn to slow the train down and share the burden of responsibility across their team.


Intelligent delegation of responsibility is an excellent way to sustain forward momentum, because letting everyone know the basic objectives and inviting people to take ownership of the work process capitalizes on individual crew member’s talents.


Distributing an acceptable amount of responsibility across the workforce enable afford management level crew time to analyze progress, team member performance and anticipate problems before they become bottlenecks.

7.    The power of duplex communication


A brief but formal meeting twice a week combined with impromptu discussions throughout the day that encourage duplex communication between team leader’s and coworkers keeps people focused and updated.


Holding onto information and ignoring the potential of how effective people can be when a team approach is used undermines a person’s leadership very quickly when that behaves like a dictator.


I regularly see experienced and inexperienced team leaders shuffle people and materials around several times a day because they are in a kafuffle.


Snappy or negative comments from a team leader diminish morale, are direct outcome of leadership anxiety that decreases productivity. Negative gossip and groups of people loitering around the workplace occurs when everyone gives up and expects failure to occur.


Off the cuff decisions made outside the team framework increase the number of tasks open, stalled tasks and tasks left incomplete, whereas group decisions deemed achievable by everyone subliminally take people outside their comfort zone and thereby magnifying the efforts of the individual through teamwork and structured time management.


Success should always be given praise and failure should always be analyzed so it can be reduced in the future.

8.    Bring the team together


Decisively bringing the team together and pressing for feedback regarding progress has four (4) positive effects:


             I.      Actively involves team members and counters the tunnel vision usually associated with singular perspectives

           II.      Provides an opportunity to resolve workplace problems that negatively effect productivity and/or morale

        III.      Magnifies the collective effort and uncovers innovative ideas which normally remain dormant

        IV.      Keeps the Marco perspective of the project intact and adjusts the Micro perspective according to prevailing circumstance

Mastering your trade and understanding the work at hand are the most critical.
The shipyard or subcontractor quotes that they can service the Huge complicated stern garage door assembly in two weeks, but only you have done it before and only you know that the detail work requires precise labeling of non symmetric Hydraulic rams and components, double fitting of the door assembly on top of shimmed and epoxy bedded hinges, fiddly time consuming proximity sensor alignment to overcome thermal expansion..... Failure to understand and pass on this knowledge to the contractor will cause time and cost overruns when the contractor must learn by doing everything twice.
Also a good habit, learned from experience, is when to cancel a project from the work wish list. If you see that work is progressing slowly for whatever reason...don't order more work.
Mega refits, in which you try to accomplish everything in one shipyard cycle, leads to poor overall refit quality. Far better to have an understanding of how jobs are done and only schedule important tasks at the correct time, according to a logical year on year long term works schedule..
The classic example is the engine room refit. Professionals schedule these works to occur while the yacht is on the hard for a topsides paint job. The engineer simply instructs the shipyard to cut an access hatch in the side of the yacht enabling the contractors to remove old gear directly into the waiting garage dumpster then install the new equipment or serviced gear into the engine room thru this access hatch. The work goes fast because access is good, avoiding time consuming internal disaasemly , assembly, permits greater attention to detail, requires little additional budget because the yacht is in repaint mode and saves the boss much money
Posted by: junior at 21/04/2010 20:08

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