Now it is official and I get my skydiving “A” license which give me ability to jump out from the plane on my own. And today I want to talk with you what people who run IT projects can get from this interesting sport. But first lets figure out what we have in common between IT projects and skydiving jumps.

A skydive:

  1. Have objective and planned outcome
  2. Limited by time and resources (altitude)
  3. Require planning upfront
  4. Mistakes during execution can lead to dramatic issues
  5. You have almost no control on enviroment
  6. People how do it with you can rather significantly contribute into success or help you to fail everything

Looks comparable with IT project, right? And it have one small difference: skydive is around 5 minute long and IT project can be 5 month long, or 5 year if you unlucky. So let’s come back to the point what is important to have successful skydive project and come back in one piece.

You need to know enviroment around you

It is includes weather, landscape and who is together with you in airplane. For IT it is common mistake of managers of different levels to start doing something without turn head around and collecting information about current state of organization or system, what is going on and why, and what is main wind business direction.

Unfortunatly enviroment usually out of our control and you have to adopt to it. Ignoring of this simple fact can cost you significant overspend of resources and maybe failure of project goals.

Planning is essential

Based on information about enviroment and what you want to do - you need to plan all phases of jump, from exit till landing. You probably doing it not alone, so everybody in your group need to undestand who is doing what.

Failure of planning and communication in group leads to mess during execution. Keep in mind that time very limited and if something going wrong you will spend time to fix it instead of doing what you planned to do.

In addition if you failed to check weather condition and did not reacted on it properly - you can land on somebody backyard (or tree) instead of designated landing zone.

Both this issues you can see in IT projects - people spending time to fix issues which occur because they not working together properly. At some point time is over and they have to release into production something which is quite far from what was expected.

Safety first

You do gear check when you preparing, you do it again before boarding and once again in arcraft. Also you will go throught emergency procedures at least couple of times in your head. Of course you have reserve parachite which is checked every 180 days. And if you smart enought you checked map to know where is you reserve landing zone can be.

And lets have a look on production systems execution:

  • Who know what to do if production servers will go down? People trained for it?
  • How often did you check that business continious plan works for real? Do you even have backups?
  • Did you ever try deployment rollback procedure? Do you check it every time before deploy? Do you have it?
  • Do you know what to do if surrouding emviroment will change, like 2-3 time increase load?
  • Do you monitor what is going on and able to react before issue become dramatic?

Majority of IT projects fails on all of this questions. Regardless the fact that day of production system downtime can cost to your organization significant part of revenue which can be critical for business or can almost kill it. And the second part here - you need to learn from your mistakes. Every jump recorded in logbook. If you are not lazy, you will write down what was good and what you need to improve. And you will work on what need to be improved. Next time before jump, you can read it again and make sure you not doing same mistakes. Do you learn from mistakes in your project or just punish people who made it.

You should know your priorities

Priorities for jump sounds simple:

  1. You should open parachute
  2. You should open parachite on proper altitude
  3. You should open parachite in stable position

But this simple rules give you ability to act fast when in needed and do not lose time and altitude trying get thing done perfectly when you need just to open it.

In IT project priorities may not be such simple but usually what I see, people do not have them at all or it so vague that you can not make simple choice between two jira tickets. Or it happen worth - everything priority one and you need to do everything. In this case together with some changes in enviroment and unpredictable things - team have nothing else that overtime or move release dates.

Teammates is key to success

During skydive when time is limited, good team work become key to great achivements.

If team know each other and know behaviour of teammates - they able to react on issues and help to fix it. To build such team you will need spend lot of jumps before people will start work as one team. Expereince level of members helps build team fastly and take more difficult things, but you can not expect that people who did not work toghether will do a great job from the first attempt.

But some reason in IT people sometimes did not have any chanse to build a team - they not motivated to do it and act as set of independent persons, or they shufled back and forth so basically they do not have time to learn how team members works.

Major criteria of team which is build well - coherent work. Which is means that when you turn to fund out you teammate’s shoulder - it at the place where you expected it to be.

Second thing which is usually missed it is fact that teamwork also take some time. It is very clear visible that if you doing solo you able to do same maneurs which is planned for group much faster. Reason also simple - you do not need to wait and coordinate with other people.

And in IT it is number one mistake called “let’s add more people to do it fastly” wich completly missed both items above.


Strees reduce your ability to think. First jumps is so much stress that you barely able to remember and repeat three simple hand actions.

So the major rule in course of jump - be relaxed and not doing sharp actions. You should not delay in actions but rush will provoke a mistakes. And usually recovery after mistake take 5-10 times more than delay which you bring making a deep breath.

So, just relaaaax.


Actually all activites which is happens in skydiving world have one objective - make jumps more save and predictable. And this industry showing constant progress in it.

If you will combine good knowledge about enviroment and safety, propper planning and prioritization, teamwork and calmness - your projects’ executions also will be lot of fun like a one of the scariest sport on this plannet.

And it is probably why I like it - because people here able to have balance between having fun and keep rules which will safe life in place.

PS: no a one skydiver was hurt during writing of this article.