How I Was Nearly Sunk by a Newport Ship

How I Was Nearly Sunk by a Newport Ship

You never know in advance what to prepare for in life, but I have to admit my planning never included what transpired…


I had kicked off the architectural studio three years previously and we were now five strong and growing. The chance to bid for a major theatre project was too good to resist. We were up against established major practices with big resources and great track records in theatre design. But we were local, we linked with good teams and we interviewed well. We won the competition.


I had to juggle staff to resource the project, recruit a few more and decided not to bid for a few more mundane projects which we would probably have won had we submitted. The theatre project started well, we got the permissions, had all the site investigations done (ground conditions. archaeology, boundary and geological surveys) and we commenced on site with confidence.
A few weeks further on a concrete piling rig hit big timbers – we halted work, checked and found the ribs of a medieval ship in superb condition lying across the site. Work stopped, we were accused of desecrating a major archaeological find (the ship was bigger and older than the Mary Rose) and politicians got involved. The archaeology report had stated that we would find nothing of any value on the site and we had assumed they were experts – but that was of no help to us. The weeks of delay turned into months of no progress and no fees.

In hindsight I should have pitched at the other, more mundane projects to have some work to fall back on and allow me to re-assign staff resources. I should also have had a much greater reserve of cash ready for such an event. I could have also insured myself against such an outcome.


The end result – I had to make two staff redundant, we made four straight months of losses and when it all kicked off again I had trouble getting appropriate resources available. It caused me and my team enormous stress and put the development of the studios back a number of years.


The lesson I learnt is that you should always plan for the worst, expect the unexpected, but hope for the best and strive to make the most of it.


Planning is the key.


Thorough planning, in advance, to enable unplanned events to be accommodated relatively easily.


At ActionCOACH we ensure our clients understand why planning is so important, and help it to become a natural and instinctive part of their personal and business life.

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