When projects and Capex are reigned in during a crisis, how do you keep your people productive and adding value amidst uncertainty? How do you keep teams motivated, inspired and growing while ensuring you continue to create value?
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When projects and capex are reigned in during a crisis, how do you keep your people productive and adding value amidst uncertainty? How do you keep teams motivated, inspired and growing while ensuring you continue to create value.
Capitalise on spare capacity and time
Numbered in order of importance and value, a combination of these tactics can be used to build a strategy to ensure you can adapt and build value despite a slow-down in project work and budget.
01. Accelerate and over-deliver
- Accelerate initiatives by adding spare capacity to projects that are under way. You could finish projects early, but ride out the crisis enough that there is little or no efficiency lost by running projects over capacity for several months. This takes proportionally extra care and energy from leadership on these projects, but is also the most effective use of capacity if done correctly.
- Over-deliver – use extra hands to add an added layer of quality to your projects. This can be achieved through polish, features or performance. A long-term investment that will be recognised by your customers and pay dividends in the future.
- A roadmap could also be partially accelerated in this way, if spare capacity was able to pull planned future projects out of sequence and start working on them earlier.
02. Innovate and create opportunities
- Now is a great time to innovate, change and make your environment more resilient, more modern and more stable. Fix the glaring technical issues that have been deprioritised to your "if we have time" backlog.
- Consider offering your team’s expertise to other business units to build relationship capital, and help other areas of the business which may be under more pressure to deliver.
- You should be encouraging teams to focus on experiments that couldn't get priority, test different methodologies, team setups, practices and culture innovation, or small product ideas which need to be taken to a minimum viable product stage to test the market.
- Create business opportunities by using the sunk cost of capacity to try secure longer term relationships, or close sales opportunities by taking the short-term impact (which would be borne anyway) to build relationships.
03. Encourage cross-skilling
- When under market pressure, the businesses that are able to adapt are usually the ones that survive and succeed. Most people's talents reach outside of their current role, and most businesses will have a shifting demand picture which could benefit from a versatile workforce.
- You might be surprised at the willingness of individuals and teams to support the business by rapidly learning and stepping into different roles for the organisation.
- Redirect your most versatile resources to areas with the most demand.
- Recognise them and reward them. This is life-saving behaviour for the company.
- For many people, this is an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and spend some time diversifying experience, and doesn't take much convincing.
04. Learn and upskill
- Maximise on otherwise lost time by allowing teams to grow themselves in preparation for future projects. There are many options available for short-term and high impact skills development courses.
- This doesn't work well for protracted time periods, but can be an effective addition to a combined strategy.
- As highlighted in our Useful Tools section, many major online learning institutes are having sales on their courses during these social distancing periods.