GDPM for the Balloon Flight over Mt. Everest

The Story

Our very talented and committed team were planning to fly the first hot air balloon over Mount Everest in 1989! The project evolved from initially being named “Star Himalayan Challenge” to “Balloon Over Everest”. We had bought the bespoke balloon, sponsors were on board, media entities were committed, and very many individuals and organizations in the UK and dotted round the world were heavily involved.

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Due to the tragic events in Tiananmen Square on 4th June 1989, we had to defer the flight. We envisaged new and substantial delays due to uncertain and uncontrollable variables, including political issues in China, Nepal and India, and only having two weather windows per annum when the jet stream was in our favor to make the flight, and more.

Accordingly we briefed the main sponsor (Star Micronics) and recommended they retained our plans, approvals and contacts etc, so that the project could be reinstated at an appropriate time in the future. The decision to formally defer the project, with hindsight, proved to be wise as the flight had to be delayed for 2 years!

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The successful flight, “Ballooning Over Everest” took place using our previously acquired balloon, and a newly acquired second balloon. The successful flights took place with Chris Dewhurst, Leo Dickinson, Andy Elson and Eric Jones in the balloons in 1991. The event is entered in the Guinness Book of Records 1993, though understandably our GDPM-driven blueprint of 2 years earlier is not referred to!

GDPM helped the team to stay focussed and aligned

Haseeb Zafar: “I was introduced to GDPM in 1988 by a colleague in the project team who had used it before. I found it a powerful system, simple to understand and very helpful. Its simplicity and structure helped us to make sure that everybody was on the same page and we had simple and effective communication instruments in place."

The A0 milestone plan at the wall, served as our communication tool:

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The milestone plan in A4:

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Responsibility Chart for the milestone "F2"

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© Copyright for all above material Haseeb Zafar, Project Director (1988-89)

Note: Further information in relation to the above, or advice in respect of managing complex projects can be obtained by emailing Haseeb Zafar, Principal, Zafar Associates, Management Consultants