The concept of “building a plane while flying” was never meant to be the most effective or efficient approach. In reality, it is messy, requires constant tinkering, and feels repetitive and slow with its incremental gains.
I’ve heard this phrase many times in my corporate life, and at first, it took me a while to grasp this seemingly impossible concept because aren’t products and projects supposed to have a defined start and finish? Aren’t we supposed to stow away with an amazing idea, create it and then release it out into the world and make millions?
With more finicky consumers and the increasing speed of technology, more and more companies are using the “Agile” approach to manage their projects which precisely follows this idea of building the plane while flying. The projects I have been involved in using this approach have seemed inefficient and a bit forced, but it gets the project progressing at a pace that a linear process would not, so the messiness of it is worth it to its stakeholders.
As humans, you and I are constantly building the plane while flying. We are always a work in progress while out in the world doing the things. And really there is no other way to live. “Flying” (living life) actually helps inform “building” (develop) who we are. We have to be building while flying or we come to a dead stop. We have to follow this process because life is an iterative process – it isn’t linear. We can’t start at point A, create an amazing version of ourselves while in hiding and then release ‘Me version 3.0’ in the world after 3 years. How do we create a new, amazing version of ourselves without living, making mistakes and trying new approaches?
Maybe this is why life feels like an impossible, scary task at times. A linear approach would be so comforting for the nervous system – direct, predictable, and safe. But life isn’t like that!
For someone who wants to “make something of myself,” it can feel like a very messy, frustrating and incomplete process. But maybe we are never meant to “release” ourselves out in the world. Maybe we are always meant to keep building while flying.