Challenges and solutions.

Wise words – the change challenges in the post-Brexit VUCA world?

Challenges and Solutions

Challenges come at us from every direction, all the time.  Faced with a challenge this week at school, my daughter said the above to my wife who duly noted it down. We thought it was a really mature and smart way of looking at things. I found the piece of paper last night.

Not wishing to sound political, I woke this morning to the shock of a Leave vote. Selfish concerns aside, driving into the office I reflected on the implications for the projects world (in the broadest sense) of this momentous change. Here are some immediate thoughts on the challenges ahead, for what they are worth.  Building on my daughters wise words – there are always solutions. Would love to hear what you think the implications will be whether you are in the project / programme / portfolio / transformation / change world or not. Here goes:

  1. One of the most complex transformation programmes in our history is about to start. There is no clear sponsor, vision, blueprint or governance (although the latter I am sure will have been thought about by the Cabinet Office et al). Is it exciting and scary in equal measure? Yes, but it will happen and we need to play our part in making the change as effectively as possible.
  2. Everything and nothing will change.  In the short term, for most of us in the projects world, life carries on. For others, there will have to be major re-planning and inevitably a culling of projects and creation of others. The function of Portfolio Management will be critical. We have just helped 2 organisations to adopt this approach. I am sure many others will follow.
  3. In a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world leadership skills are critical. At a project, and even more so at a Programme and Portfolio, level, critical decisions will have to be made regarding strategy and its execution. People who are comfortable with uncertainty, and can provide future islands of certainty, will be in demand.
  4. Relationships, one of the key foundation stones of leadership, will be challenged as uncertainty grows (hopefully only in the short term). Project professionals with relationship building (and sustaining) skills will be critical in ensuring that change continues, possibly in a different way but at least moving forward as nowadays little change happens without multiple players.
  5. There has been a growing realisation of the need for improved leadership capability and capacity. This will only grow. We have banged on about this challenge for years (and played a small part in writing a book on the topic last year). Many people  and organisations are taking action and our hats go off to them but this must grow, and quickly, to meet the challenges ahead.

I have deliberately not tried to dwell on this too long as no doubt I would add more / tweak the points. I wanted to share my immediate feelings (turned into thoughts on the page). I am sure all of our opinions will change in the coming days, weeks and months. It would be great to hear what you think. Whatever happens, the projects world, and the professionals in it, are at the heart of delivering the change. Quoting my daughter, “we can always find a solution around it”.

(Originally written on Friday 24th June, 2016)

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