Become Future-Ready Through Resilience, Learning and Collaboration

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Many organizations today are implementing new technologies to keep pace with the acceleration in digitalization brought about by the pandemic. But technology alone is not enough to solve some of the complex issues that organizations face. Companies that foster resilience in employees and create transparent environments for learning and collaboration are positioned to respond most effectively to not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but to any disruption that may lie on the horizon.

What is resilience? “You’re going along, life is good, and then wham, something happens,” explained Madelyn Blair, Ph.D., speaker, author, executive advisor, faculty at Columbia University and the creator of the Riding the Current program.  “You say, ‘I have to do something in order to move on.’ That’s the decision that you’re going to make. And that, to me, is where resilience lies — it is really that decision place.”

Resilient project managers, teams and leaders are able to effectively problem-solve and move forward when the unexpected occurs in a project — for example, when customers change their requirements, schedules run over or costs exceed projections. Or when a pandemic hits. 

How do organizations achieve this? Employees can make better decisions in difficult situations — exercising and enhancing their resilience — when the organization is transparent and shares information.

“What is it that we like to have when we’re making a decision?” Blair asked as she spoke with PMI CCO Joe Cahill during an episode of PMI’s “Center Stage” podcast. “You want to have as much information as possible so that you can make that decision and make a good decision.” 

As we continue to face complex and uncertain situations, however, relying on individuals with enough information to make key choices is not enough. 

“We have got more complex issues for which we don’t have any answers,” said Nancy Dixon, Ph.D., a speaker, author, executive advisor, faculty at Columbia University and thought leader in the field of knowledge management. “We need to bring people together because this issue is one we do not yet understand. If we put our minds together, we can come up with what we think will work.” 

These collaborative efforts bear much fruit — they can help find innovative ways forward, while also helping individuals and teams build their own resilience and develop new knowledge. It invests the team members in the outcome because they are given a voice in developing the solutions they are tasked with implementing. And when the next complex problem arrives on the horizon, as it inevitably will, the team has the skills and motivation to tackle it.  

While it may not be easy to create this culture in an entire organization overnight, project managers can see immediate benefits from applying these team approaches when they encounter unexpected situations in a project. “One of the most powerful tools a leader has is this power to convene people around those tough conversations,” Dixon says. 

Go deeper by listening to the full podcast episodes, “Resilient Leadership” with Madelyn Blair and “Reimagining the Workplace for Engagement” with Nancy Dixon, available only on PMI’s “Center Stage” podcast hosted by Joe Cahill. Blair and Dixon also presented a webinar, “Resilience and Deep Learning,” for PMI members on