Association for Project Management
How the pandemic has heightened the stakes for adaptability
Blog posted by: Alicia Hungerford, 22 Sep 2021.
In my role as a creative producer, I am responsible for guiding my team and supporting our clients to achieve the project vision. I am involved from the conceptual phase and work through detailed designs to make creative decisions that enhance this vision. During production, I work with our vendors, partners, and clients to achieve overall project success through adaptive decision-making and problem solving.
I have had the privilege of working with many of our brand clients, designing and producing brand homes. I am engaged in the production of whisky experiences throughout Scotland that change the way people think about the industry and positively impact Scottish tourism.
Agility has been the key driver for our projects in changing times. The world is asking for projects that are sustainable, accessible and inclusive. Innovations that align with these goals continue to be created, and we’re constantly challenging ourselves to think bigger and refine our ideas.
The biggest challenge I face is getting everyone involved in a project to think differently. Storytelling and people-driven projects require a detail-oriented approach. Nothing is one-size-fits-all. As projects grow, it is critical to train the team to work together in adapting our thinking and ways of working, and this requires project managers to adapt and create a safe space for this environment and culture.
Project management has faced a challenging fork in the road during the pandemic
Companies all over the world have had to decide whether to adapt or to continue operating as they have been. Overall, I’ve seen great success in people’s adaptability. And I believe the success of so many projects during the pandemic can be attributed to this. Rigid workflows and working hours are no more. Digital solutions have been implemented, and team leaders have had to manage with empathy. This is something that has been a long time coming.
Project managers have a unique opportunity to push society forward. Companies are being asked to provide answers to society’s biggest problems of the decade: sustainability and inclusivity. As project managers, we must be committed to this change by empowering diverse teams, encouraging transparency and being willing to take the long road, with sustainable benefits, over the most cost-effective. These small decisions will ultimately lead to big impacts on global business.
I was very fortunate to be a part of projects that continued during COVID-19, and that I had meaningful work to do during this time. My experience taught me to pay close attention to my mental health, especially when it comes to work hours and burnout, and it taught me to understand my colleagues even more. The cultural norm was for project managers to be on call constantly and accomplishing the endless to-do list seven days a week. This felt even more dangerous at home, with less structure and less of a separation between work and life. We had to be more transparent with each other and understanding with colleagues who had different situations than our own. I feel all of this will benefit us moving into the post-COVID-19 work life and adapting to the new culture.
Project professionals need to be ready for anything
This isn’t new information for a profession that is used to being vision-oriented, thinking quickly and planning for the many challenges we face. This past 18 months has heightened the stakes for adaptability and the expectation that we will make things work will continue. We have to plan for remote teamwork and client approvals, unforeseen costs and find new methods to communicate.
The most important thing is the health of your team. The pandemic has affected everyone differently and we can’t expect anyone to come back to ‘normal’. As professionals, we must be adaptive and check in with our team members, communicate in different ways for each of them, respect their working boundaries and cultivate an environment where they can be creative and innovative from wherever they are.
About the Author
Alicia Hungerford has worked at BRC Imagination Arts for six years, where she has helped lead the development of several brand projects that include Johnnie Walker Princes Street and the Four Corner Distillery Brand Homes, Absolut Home Åhus, and Jameson Distillery Bow St. In her role as creative producer, Alicia oversees every step of the creative process from early concept through to production and supports the execution of every design detail and operational touchpoint.
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