Association for Project Management
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How 2020’s challenges are unlocking new ways of thinking

Blog posted by: Debbie Dore 14 September 2020.


As we move out of the crisis phase of the coronavirus pandemic and bed into the ‘new normal’, embracing new ways of thinking will lead to better outcomes for people and projects alike.

Organisations that embrace a more open culture can influence positive change from top to bottom. There are plenty of examples of this where we see organisations that have taken huge leaps forward when it comes to new ways of working and embracing innovation. Ultimately this results in greater flexibility and a greater emphasis on putting adaptability at the heart of new projects.

Like many of you, APM has had to think differently when it comes to delivering our major projects. From enhancing our online offering for qualifications and pivoting to virtual events, big changes have been made in significantly condensed time frames without compromising on quality. We’ve been able to achieve this by drawing on strengths such as diversity of thought, stakeholder engagement, adaptable management and a culture that embraces positive change. These are qualities that all of us have, but it’s vital that we continue to strive for improvement – both at an organisational level and as individuals.

People, as we know, are at the heart of change. This is true both in a team setting and of each individual driving that change.

Change is rarely easy, but as project professionals we have an advantage when it comes to adapting to situations that would be outside the comfort zones of most people. In many ways, project management is about managing change. It’s about delivering something new and as we know well new isn’t always easy to adapt to. Furthermore, we are tasked with delivering in a way that minimises disruption and maximises benefits.

This inherent understanding of change is perhaps why many project professionals have not only successfully adapted to the challenges of 2020 but actually thrived. Initiatives such as the furlough scheme and the construction of the NHS Nightingale hospitals are just two examples of well-managed, responsive projects that have captured the imagination of the wider public.

But of course, 2020 has been unique in that mass change has been thrust upon us, disrupting established processes, systems and ways of working. This has forced us, as a profession, to think differently.

A broad approach

The APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition encourages project professionals to explore a full spectrum of positions, such as hybrid or iterative, to navigate often ‘messy’ project setups. It recognises that professionals are responsible and able to pivot and shift their perspectives to find the right solution.

We have a moment right now, in these extraordinary times, to re-evaluate what good looks like. It is a chance to broaden our horizons and work towards a better future.

These themes and many others will be explored in greater depth at Think Differently, a virtual event aimed at redefining how project professionals perceive and practise diversity. I’ll be helping to launch the five-day event on Monday 21 September and am proud to be appearing alongside an incredible roster of subject matter experts who will be sharing their insight and thought leadership.

About the Author

Debbie’s career journey has seen her work for Thames Television, Oxford University Press and as a member of the board at Swets Information Services, delivering global transformation projects across sales, IT and customer service. 

She joined APM in 2015 and held the roles of chief commercial officer and chief operating officer before becoming CEO in 2018. She is responsible for leading the organisation through a period of change, including establishing it as a chartered body and developing the reputation of project management as a profession of value.


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