Moment of Truth
We asked the project management community: How did you adapt—and apply lessons learned—throughout the pandemic?
Voices | PROJECT TOOLKIT
ZOFF-PHOTO/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS
Two qualities got me through: acceptance and adaptability. I thrive at the office, where I focus better and prefer the face-to-face interaction. Now, for the first time in my life, I am onboarding at a new job, in a new industry, entirely remotely, and I still haven’t been able to meet anyone in person. But after a month, I am at peace with it. I’ve accepted that this is the new normal, and I’ve adapted by recognizing the perks of working from home—like eating healthier—that I refused to see in the past.
—Irina Barsky, PMP, project manager, MongoDB, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
When the pandemic hit, a few organizational game-changers really stood out: our digital transformation that predated COVID-19, strong continuity of operations and the knowledge management programs we already had in place. We activated a pandemic task force early on, on 22 January. We needed to put resilience on display—and the backbone of resilience is knowledge. Case in point: A virtual wiki knowledge library demo I led in September was electric, bringing in three times more participants than initially invited.
—Benjamin Anyacho, PMP, senior project manager, Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, USA
I recently led a complex, business-critical project—a physical migration of our company’s supply chain environment conducted by our partners in Malaysia. When Malaysia went into lockdown three days before go-live, we had to hit pause immediately. To ease the uncertainty and boost team morale, I engaged the team and senior leadership constantly with the help of remote tools and informal influencing. We created group chats with the steering committee that, over time, became lighter and more engaging. That approach gave us easy access to senior leadership to get a consensus without having to check everyone’s calendar for a group meeting. Not only did this boost our decision-making speed, but it also helped us realize that a balance between formal and informal engagement, aided by technology, will be instrumental in the new norm. And we completed the implementation successfully in the same week the Malaysia lockdown was eased.
—Geetha Gopal, PMP, senior infrastructure projects manager, Panasonic Asia Pacific, Singapore
The situation has made the invisible visible, motivated us to step out of our comfort zones and pushed us to accelerate the changes we didn’t want to implement. It has forced us to eliminate waste, particularly in terms of time management and effective meetings. And it’s urged us to understand what it truly means to be agile. Really, this is nothing new. This world has existed out there for a long time—we just weren’t ready to accept living in it.
—Sergio Luis Conte, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP, DevSecOps enabling functions lead, PepsiCo Latin America, Buenos Aires, Argentina
This pandemic has helped me to reinforce my communication skills and reminded me that empathy is essential. To that end, I began adding more visuals and different colors to my emails to appeal to people’s emotions. On conference calls, I’ve tried to be more focused and articulate, and I’ve become more flexible about punctuality and background noise. I learned to listen more closely to a person’s tone of voice. And at the outset of a call, I started using the screen-sharing tool to display a photo of a landscape or monument taken by one of the participating team members, allowing us to ‘travel’ virtually and start things off on a positive note.
—Yasmina Khelifi, PMI-ACP, PMP, senior project manager, Orange, Paris, France
Most of us have been lucky because we were equipped with two things: the tools and capabilities to stay always connected with the world, and time. Time is the great gift of lockdown. I tried to capitalize on it by investing in new professional learning tools with a focus on non-predictive contexts, and on training that would exercise my capacity for resilience. I earned new scrum certifications that gave me a deeper knowledge to apply the agile framework. I’ve attended weekly webinars organized by PMI. And I’m learning a new musical instrument.
—Eleonora Pappalardo, PMP, project consultant, Concept Quality Reply, Milan, Italy
Here To Stay
Organizations are adapting to keep thriving amid new workplace norms.
of employers say productivity at their organization has been equal to or higher than it was before the pandemic.
of employers plan to put more flexible work policies in place post-pandemic, such as work-from-home allowances and adjusted schedules.
1 in 3
employers expect at least half of their workforce to continue working remotely after the pandemic.
Source: The New Shape of Work Is Flexibility for All, Mercer, 2020