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Author  Allan Thomson – PPM Product Ambassador, Axelos

July 3, 2020 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Leadership
  • Project management

As organizations and their leaders start to prepare for what the “new normal” will be, they would benefit from a structured, best practice approach to this journey.

Using a tried and tested method, such as PRINCE2®, helps address a number of critical challenges of change.

Auditing where you are

What is your organization’s current state? What is either still valid or no longer valid and what needs improving?

Any strategic planning for this year has probably gone out of the window, so you will need to decide on what the new, future state will look like. And achieving that future will involve a project or collection of projects needed to deliver that vision and generate value.

The PRINCE2 project management method will support that process, including how to monitor the steps along the way as the path to recovery is unlikely to be static or a straight line.

Learning lessons

Capturing and learning lessons from experience is a key part of PRINCE2, so it’s important for employers and their people to learn organizational lessons from what they’ve been through this year and challenge themselves to do better.

For example, the big switch to new technology that enables remote working and collaboration. How well have you deployed it and how can you improve its ongoing use?

There are also lessons to learn from the emotional aspects of how lockdown has affected people and how companies need to embed measures to support wellbeing on an on-going basis.

Improvement and innovation

Improvement and innovation are delivered by projects and ultimately become business as usual if they are successful.

As a generic method, PRINCE2 guides projects through their lifecycle in a way that allows business to test innovation safely and make changes as needed.

In our current scenario, starting with small changes will help organizations see what works and regain confidence about how to cope with a new-look business model.

New initiatives – selecting, sifting and stress testing

With economic recession looming, it’s vital that organizations have a way of choosing and testing new initiatives to ensure they are worth investing in.

This means having an approach to benefits management, as any investment in change projects will have to stack up at a time when funds are limited. Also, the PRINCE2 principle of continued business justification helps with this: ensuring a project’s business case is robust and – if not – it should stop and be decommissioned.

For your chosen projects, stress test them rigorously and question how the benefits are going to be delivered. Involve your customers as they will be the judge of value and could also highlight other opportunities.

Managing this is in stages will allow businesses to assess validity step by step.

Ultimately, it won’t be acceptable to delay thinking about benefits until six months down the line when it becomes someone else’s responsibility. It’s all about having rigour and being joined up with strategic objectives and key performance indicators.

Resilient leadership

Leaders must be consistent, resilient, visible and competent – at all times, but especially in a time of recovery.

They should also encourage controlled experimentation in the business, because they won’t have all the answers. Employees deserve to have input into the way they’re going to operate in the future, so it’s necessary to ask them: “are we doing the right thing?”

A willingness to pivot the organization based on new data should be embraced as a sign of agility, though taking cautious, careful steps remains key.

Sharing leadership responsibility will also enable top teams to face current challenges while preparing the business for future opportunities.