5 Things that Hurricane IRMA can teach Project Management?

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As Hurricane IRMA moves along the south western tips of the United States, our thoughts as Turlon & Associates are with those who stand in its path. As the state of Florida comes to terms with been hit by the most catastrophic storm in its history, you can’t but think of the power of Mother Nature and the how powerless we are in the face of natures will. Florida will most likely see things that it has never seen before, as Hurricane Irma brings tornadoes, possible sea surges of over 15 feet, huge possibilities of flooding and with winds blowing at over 130 miles per hour. So yes, we are observing history albeit from afar but such power of nature has not been seen for a while.

Irma has strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it approaches the United States. But as we stand back and look at such power, what can us as Professional Project Managers take from this? Most project managers will face various situations of that have a mammoth amount of complexity and ambiguity. There is a term often used in project management, which is facing the ‘eye of the storm’, and what we mean by this is that we are in project meltdown where there are some serious issues arising and various chaotic events are ‘swirling’ around the project. So what can us as Project Managers take from any Hurricane? What steps or actions can we take on board in order to manage the chaos, and ensure they we stay calm and collected in the eye of the storm and when times are difficult?

Here are five things, that we can take in the Project Eye of a Storm, that is been evidenced through the mayhem that Hurricane IRMA is causing:

  1. Planning is sometimes futile, what matters is the objective: – Most project managers will state loudly their agreement with this in that we over plan and under prepare. Yet prior to action, we plan as if the plan is everything. As project managers, it is not about the planning, it is how we can control the plan and in times of emergencies how we all can accept that deviating from the plan is very acceptable. Sometimes, you must act before you plan and in the case of the Hurricane IRMA, it is about the immediate response with respect to the objective that is far more important than the plan itself.
  2. What matters most is the People Involved and not the Result: – Essentially a lot of projects that we take on is about helping the organisation, society needs or even market advancements. As project managers, while the result is the focus, but having a calm and controlled group of people around you is far more important. When we talk about the eye of the storm, it can’t be done when you and those around you are in a state of frenzy. Stay cool, calm and collected and take care of those around you.
  3. Contingency is about action and not planning: – Contingency planning is a process which will help you to focus your ideas and to decide what steps you need to take to achieve particular goals in the face of adversity. But sometime we plan contingencies without thinking of the outcome and the focus should not be on what could happen but what needs to be done in the face of adversity. Those facing Hurricane IRMA are been served not be the contingencies that are put in place based on the outcome and not the contingencies put in placed based on the planning.
  4. Being Proactive is the Better than any Master Class: – When manging crisis or chaos is your measuring stick, you immediately need to know how to act quickly and decisively. It requires taking personal responsibility for your project and choices that are made. Dealing with chaos is simply taking responsibility for the change and moving forward. It involves a grand vision and showing others their responsibility. This is not not about sitting in any Masterclass on management, it is called being proactive
  5. If you are in the Middle of a Crisis, stay calm and don’t react: – It is found that in life-threatening situations, around 75% of people are unhinged by the situation and are unable to think clearly. Just 15% of people on average manage to remain calm and rational enough to make decisions that can help in situations of crisis or danger. It is said the remaining 10% are plain dangerous as they freak out and hinder the survival chances of everyone else. So the bottom line, is to stay calm and plenty deep breaths.

Would any of wish for Hurricane IRMA? Absolutely not but as Project Managers, we face professional storms / hurricanes more that we will ever admit. Let’s be ready and face them full on. Wishing all those affected or having loved one’s affected by Hurricane IRMA the very best and we are thinking of you all at this time.

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