Edition 1, Volume 1
I want to talk to you briefly about Projects, because projects are what I know about. Projects are a fundamental part of human existence. On a personal level, we all must manage projects of all sorts and sizes, whether it be structuring our finances, managing family life, or working toward personal goals. Everyone engages in projects. On a larger social context, projects are the very life blood of a well functioning society. Life is by nature, complex if not down right chaotic. And that which is complex is suited to the practice of projects. To the extent that things are changing and solutions not always obvious or simple, you have a project.
“KNOW THAT WE ARE HERE TO HELP OUR PARTNERS AND COMMUNITY DURING THIS CHALLENGING TIME IN ANY WAY THAT WE CAN. STAY ADAPTABLE, DIVE IN TO THAT WHICH YOU CAN CONTROL, AND FORGE AHEAD!”
If any recent instance in history can point most accurately to the importance of being able to execute projects, it is the world wide COVID-19 pandemic which has fundamentally altered life for the planets 7.8 billion plus inhabitants. The realm of the unanticipated has descended upon the world and the ability to respond has indeed been a life or death issue for many. Projects have, and still are being unfolded all over the globe to meet the demands which are being placed on nations, states, cities, businesses, families, and individuals. Hospitals and testing facilities have gone up over night in some cases. Citizens have prepared for anticipated and actual quarantines all over the globe, and governments are unfolding a multitude of projects to help tackle the health and financial impacts of the global recession currently looming. Business owners, some agile and flexible, others not quite enough, struggle to do what can be done in the face of such a life altering event.
I write this now as one of those countless American business owners in the midst of this global tragedy. I am in a city of over 3 million people, all but fully quarantined, nearly three weeks after the President's declaration of a National emergency. The majority of business locations closed. Work from home being a new norm which has seen a surge in teleconferencing, one of a select few stock types which have increased during the crushing bear market and potential recession which is currently unfolding.
The issue at hand is still a fresh wound. The world is in many ways traumatized. Some are cut off from those we rely on for comfort and wish to comfort ourselves in times such as these. There is still uncertainty about what is next.
The reaction of people has been captivating to understate the observation. In fact, it has been pretty intense. Panic was present, and still is in many places. The general feel of many has been that of a deer in the headlights. Few know how to respond to such a situation as it was previously unimaginable. Even as we watched it unfold in China. Then later in Italy, Iran, and other parts of the world. For most, it was always something which was happening some where that wasn't here, until it wasn't.
Yet it is in times such as these that character itself is molded for all. Despite circumstances, we daily see strength, resilience, ingenuity, compassion, and team work bloom in places both expected and not expected.
The global coronavirus epidemic has illustrated many things to societies across the globe. Preparation is a major lesson. Contingencies were not present to the degree required. The game of "what if" was not carried out to its logical conclusions. On the pragmatic side, there is a lesson to be learned about the importance of projects and two of their key factors. Factors which have set and will continue to set the stage for a given populations ability to cope with current circumstance. Adaptability, in terms of rapid response, shifting the rules of what we previously perceived as the "way to do things". And, leadership. When things are not going well, when the unanticipated strikes and action is required, leadership is perhaps the most critical factor in producing successful outcomes.
These two factors are the foundation for the values we practice at our company. These values have long existed in our organization, and I found found them inked to paper in January of this year,prior to any real conscious understanding of what was to come. It was written at first as a guideline to the companies evolving training program. Geared to help my small team hone some foundational skills to help serve them in career and life as part of our monthly Round Table sessions. I want my people to thrive, not just in business, but personally as well because I value them as people. Once a month, we rotate through our group, picking a topic to train the other team members on. It's a chance for us to take a deep dive in to some of the more esoteric skills (and some times technical) which I felt are so often overlooked in our industry- yet so foundational to personal and organizational success. My training was in February and titled Project Leadership. The results of this personal development mentality and the implementation of this program so far have been hard to fathom, and have become more tangible amidst the unfolding of the issues resulting from the present pandemic. We have built and continue to build a group of people who are looking at the current circumstances in terms which are difficult for many right now, if not for many in normal circumstances.
Principles such as extreme responsibility, contingency thinking, decentralized decision making, multi-level leadership, and relationship building have become the responsive norm. Aphorisms of stoic virtues such as "the obstacle is the way" have been leaned on repeatedly, and each day brings with it new information which is tackled with adaptability and an "Executioners mentality" for the tasks at hand. These practices are not always easy. Particularly with all the distractions currently taking place, and the intensity of the rapidly shifting landscape right now. However, I can't imagine not having these tools to pull from in a time like this. They were such a big part of our normal culture and operations in pre pandemic circumstances even before we enacted our monthly round tables, but they are proving themselves invaluable right now.
It is my sincere hope that you- our clients, partners, friends, co-workers, and loved ones - will be able to take this message and take steps to develop the Project Leader in yourself. That you may chart a path in uncertain times so that whatever projects, challenges, or trials you are/or will be faced with, you will emerge successful. Will you approach these hardships determined to let them strengthen and refine you and your organization through your adaptability, resilience, and leadership?
Daily life will return reinvented on the back side of this challenging time. And I choose to see that future as a very vibrant and successful one in the long run - a future full of newly emerged leaders and innovators eager to tackle the projects which lie ahead.
Know that we are here to help our partners and community during this challenging time in any way that we can. Stay adaptable, dive in to that which you can control, and forge ahead!
April 2nd, 2020