Being an adaptable organization is essential to your company’s long-term survival.
Periods of economic uncertainty are one of the greatest tests of today’s business leaders. To survive, companies need to be able to confidently shift plans and funding with little time to prepare.
We all know the story of Chicken Little. Sometimes, even more chaos can be generated amid panic. When, really, a calm and level-headed approach is what we need when investigating and weathering the storm.
Rather than make rash decisions, your business can use times of uncertainty to embrace agility and flexibility when scaling back spending, revisiting priorities, and realigning their workforces.
This is a time when PMOs can step up. Our last post looked at how PMOs drive value during difficult economic moments. Now, one question remains when surviving an economic crisis: how does the PMO’s role play a part?
We’ll walk you through how your organization can embrace adaptability to further prove its worth during periods of volatility.
How to Facilitate Adaptability and Pivot in Times of Change and Uncertainty
To become a truly adaptable organization, companies need to make a major shift away from rigidity toward continuous change.
It’s better to deprioritize low-value or failing projects and realign plans than it is to sink with the ship because “we have so much invested already.”
If something doesn’t work anymore and it’s slowing your organization down, take a page from Marie Kondo’s book. Thank it for what it contributed to the business and let it go.
And yes, this can be daunting. Big risks and costs can come from changing plans and shifting priorities. Especially if the company has made critical investments in those initiatives and work, or when it comes to your organization’s biggest and farthest-reaching projects and programs.
But, as the PMO, this is the perfect time to drive home the value you can offer your organization.
Establish yourself as a strategic partner who is invaluable in uncertain times, instead of a back office that simply provides reporting and execution.
To do this, you’ll need to move past traditional planning tools and siloed teamwork.
You’ll also need to step outside your comfort zone as a traditional PMO. The good news is we have five actionable tips to help you become an adaptable organization. So you can make it clear that your PMO is a value driver during economic uncertainty.
Let’s get started with one of the most important elements – being comfortable with change.
1. Inspire Teams to Embrace Change
Change, especially in times of uncertainty, is not always viewed as a good thing by everyone. Yes – the unknown is a scary thought!
But the PMO can spearhead a culture of embracing change at your company.
You can inspire teams to approach their work with a scientific and innovative, curious mindset where they constantly search for new ideas and seek out the best way to accomplish their deliverables.
When unknowns surface, this is a perfect opportunity to shake up the status quo and keep improving on processes. What worked in the past may not be the best way today or in the future.
Encourage team members to get creative and leverage autonomy to decide on their own. Let them “test” ways to execute the work and manage workloads so everyone wins with delivery.
And when it comes to continuous improvement, teams can use the “fail fast” method and other agile principles. By looking at failure as a learning experience, team members should feel empowered to experiment in their work and fail without fear of reprisal.
But don’t just wallow in failure. Do something with the lessons learned.
The fail-fast approach allows teams to quickly determine the best course of action for completing a project and avoid ineffective and time-consuming alternatives. This mentality lays the groundwork for becoming an adaptable organization.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Act
Speaking of failure – fear of it can lead to “analysis paralysis.”
That’s when business leaders avoid making difficult but necessary decisions.
Fostering a culture that accepts that every decision is not the right one is critical, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
Acting quickly can be more important than waiting for the perfect decision.
In these situations, the PMO shouldn’t just offer data without context. Instead, provide stakeholders with thoughtfully outlined scenarios where the impacts and outcomes of each potential path are clear to your audience.
Embrace your influential role as a change management leader. Normalize effective prioritization, knowing that there will always be more ideas than there are resources.
It isn’t just leaders who need to know this information. Think about being the thread that pulls together strategy and delivery. The PMO should ensure that teams also understand the possible outcomes of their work and how it impacts the organization, to give meaning and context to their efforts.
3. Make Your Planning Cycles Shorter
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: introducing a fail-fast mentality to your organization may cause stress without additional support.
To ensure its successful implementation, don’t just fail fast and fail often. Pair this approach with other agile practices, such as shorter planning cycles.
Shift from inflexible annual planning to a more continuous planning approach – like quarterly, or monthly planning – to assess and evaluate your plans and progress. Make changes if needed. This is how iterative planning can help your company become an adaptable organization.
By dividing planning into shorter iterations, you can break down the work into smaller batches of value more easily. You can deliver projects in sprints of two-to-four weeks.
You’ll be able to help teams manage shifting workloads and capacity. They can continuously adjust work deliverables, avoiding potential pitfalls and setbacks. This becomes especially important in times of volatility, where rapid changes are necessary to adapt to changing circumstances.
4. Stay Focused on What Matters
To be an effective PMO in a volatile market, you need to ensure that the responsibilities and work driven by the PMO are a part of the big picture. This is a core part of being an adaptable organization.
Your projects, programs, and portfolios, should connect to your organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
Leveraging an effective PPM solution that can centralize information and create a singular, executive line of sight can be a great benefit for adaptability. With a single source of truth, you have accurate, up-to-date data and insights that clearly track the creation of business value.
Data is a critical factor when making decisions – especially when cost-cutting and other short-sighted options become rampant.
You can easily prioritize the project financials, resources, and performance that are tied to your organization’s strategic goals. And when business priorities shift, you can pivot quickly when needed.
Having a PPM solution will also make it easier for you to manage your teams’ different working styles. You can give them hybrid work delivery tools to execute the work, so you can track each team’s progress and manage potential conflicts in real-time over resources, budgets, or capacity. You’ll also be able to provide them with shared digital workspaces to collaborate and get things done.
5. Pivot When Needed
As an adaptable organization, you should be scheduling quarterly checkpoints to assess the health of your teams and projects. Use these checkpoints to assess what is and isn’t driving business value, then reprioritize work accordingly.
You should always prioritize projects that are delivering the highest value to the company, which will allow you to deliver the best results in difficult times.
Have the Confidence to Take Action and Thrive Amid the Storm
What can a business do to survive an economic crisis? Become an adaptable organization that accommodates changing industry demands, customer preferences, and company objectives.
Now is the time for PMOs to lead the charge in embracing continuous, adaptive planning and delivery. By monitoring the health of your projects and adjusting as needed, you can ensure you’re helping guide your organization through difficult times.
While this can seem daunting to PMOs used to annual planning, continuous planning will allow you to get the best return on investment in a volatile market. Times of uncertainty are where decisions need to be made quickly and effectively. By driving home the value you bring as the PMO, you’ll ensure your place as an influential part of your organization.
Make your PMO the strategic value driver of your organization. Access the “Elevating the PMO Role” whitepaper to get started.