Agile methodologies are those most naturally aimed at building resilience due to the fact that the work is broken down into smaller portions. These smaller portions correspond to the delivery of a part of the work that immediately proves useful to the customer.
But what if, for whatever reason, an Agile approach cannot be applied? How does project management cooperate with resilience? How can we learn to apply a non-technical skill like resilience in a technical environment like project development?
What is resilience? The definition
Amit Sood, executive director of the Global Centre for Resiliency and Well-Being gave this definition of resilience; “Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity, to recover and grow despite the difficulties and decline of life”.
The encyclopedia defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens”.
Anyone who works in the field of project management knows how resilience is a fundamental factor for the success of any project: being able to cope with problems, unforeseen events and malfunctions is certainly a fundamental prerequisite.
Resilience and Project Management
Resilience is fundamental to providing value and continuity of service during the occurrence of unforeseen events: it helps to recover quickly, avoid further damage and return activities to a state of normality.
This is certainly one of the key elements that a successful project manager must control and underlies most project management frameworks and methodologies.
Resilient approach to projects
Disruption can cause a project to fail. This is why most project managers focus on reducing vulnerabilities, but it is equally important for the successful completion of a project that proper attention is also paid to the development of readiness and response skills in uncertain situations. A resilient approach is based on the combination of these two approaches (preventive action and response).
Resilience in projects is defined as:
The ability of a project to respond to, prepare for and reduce the impact of disruptions caused by the drifting environment and project complexity.
Resilience in project management is based on 4 fundamental aspects:
- Proactivity: ability of the project to anticipate certain aspects or difficulties.
- Coping capacity: i.e. the ability to cope with certain situations and the ability to handle stress and problems.
- Flexibility: ability to handle problems and interruptions by actively using them to bring about change.
- Persistence: ability to pursue closing a project despite difficulties
All stakeholders expect to interact with a project manager who is always available, especially in high-stress situations. For this reason, the project manager must always hold the reins of the project. He/she must also be able to make self-assessments on his or her own level of resilience by having a clear understanding of the project’s objectives, the stakeholders’ expectations and how to meet them.
The Project Manager has to:
- Being a figure of responsibility, your authority is clear and recognised by all.
- Know how to manage the team and not just individual professionals.
- Be available to both the team and the stakeholders.
If this figure tends to “get lost” in difficult moments, does not participate in important meetings, misses schedules, forgets to answer emails, it is a clear sign of low resilience.
The low resilience of a project manager is a problem both for the team and for the stakeholders involved in the project, who lose confidence in the project manager, which may affect the success of the project.
Confidence and awareness of one’s abilities is a key factor in being able to work resiliently, another one is strong soft skills.
Something that can also help improve resilience is knowing and using a project management method. This can help to improve the project’s speed and efficiency. Having a certification that attests to the skills is definitely a confidence booster, whether that is a waterfall project management methodology or a more agile one, is up to you!