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How to turn a crisis into a project management and leadership opportunity

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How to turn a crisis into a project management and leadership opportunity

In our normal routines, managers attempt to plan every detail of a project to ensure success. Life, on the other hand, is always interfering with that plan and presents us with an unlimited supply of disasters and the occasional crisis.


Decision time


I believe all of us are bombarded with these situations from time to time. They may show themselves in the form of a crisis at work (the data center has lost power) or something less significant at home (the washing machine won’t drain). The way that we manage these situations, big or small, are all opportunities to refine our skills, while learning lessons so that we can do better the next time.

Teamwork


It’s an interesting phenomenon that disasters will always attract a crowd. This was going to be beneficial in getting our road cleared as we needed several people to get the task done. I admitted that I had no lumber-jack training but felt confident enough to start cutting limbs if others would haul them away. A couple of youngsters agreed and we began making progress.

Who is in charge?


How many of us have been placed in the middle of a project only to find out that nobody is in charge? Or perhaps, discovered that the person in charge is the wrong person for the job? This is often the result of ego or fear that stepping aside will demonstrate weakness. Perhaps our latest arrival was more qualified to move this tree, but we already had people on the scene. Were we really going to let some stranger take over?

A leader must realize that others may have better skills or resources to complete a job and, therefore, be willing to step aside and serve in an alternate form. A leader wants what is best for the team. I’m certain that our original plan would have eventually prevailed, but our new addition suggested that we proceed faster and with the goal of removing the entire tree.

Reallocation of resources


A leader should always be willing to “jump in” wherever his people need help. I have had projects in which I bounced from testing a back-out plan to rebooting servers to ordering pizza all in the same shift. Remember, there are no small jobs. The most menial of all tasks will eventually derail an entire plan if it is not dealt with accordingly.

Safety


Proper project management should always include continuity plans and safety stops. Each project will have its own unique set of requirements. While a typical information technology project would require access to daily data backups, a utility migration might require an on-site generator be available. Every project should, at minimum, have the plans in place to account for the safety of the people and the products effected.

Action


No project should be filed away without a review of the process. Noting what worked well and what could have been done better is how we learn to make future tasks easier. Many people find relief in discussing the process and reflecting on their roles while others appreciate the opportunity to thank those who helped make it possible. Closure is the final aspect and should never be overlooked for the sake of moving onto the next crisis/project.