At the end of this article executives, business and project owners will, hopefully, realize, because they are looking at COVID-19 and seeing only the negatives, they may be missing opportunities.
Never Ending Change: the COVID-19 Opportunity
One thing you can count on is the need for change. COVID-19 has made truer than any time in history. Whether it’s a change in behaviors, worker and customer protections, operating hours, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, the number of employees working or customers being served at any one time; regardless there is one common theme: the need for change.
COVID-19 created new challenges for multi-state organizations accustomed to organizational standards. The pandemic challenges this goal, as businesses receive new local and state government and health requirements. Establishing policies that span the organization, however desirable, may not be practical. There must be flexibility to localize the response.
With all this said you cannot let these challenges get you down. Resilience is the answer. You must be looking for opportunities.
Look for Opportunities
Where do you find opportunities?
Banks, stores and other customer facing businesses have innovated by installing Plexiglas shields, creating a safer environment, reducing the chance for employees or customers to transmit airborne contaminants, not just the COVID-19 virus but also those for the flu and common cold.
For companies making shields, this was an opportunity. Were they making shields previously, maybe not. The shields may now be a new product line or maybe the material was scrap from larger jobs that would have been recycled or discarded. Regardless, it was an unexpected opportunity; are you searching for your opportunities?
If your business has an outdated showroom, remodeling can be a challenge because of the disruption to the sales floor, however, now because of the COVID-19 reduced traffic, this may be the ideal time to remodel.
Gyms and similar facilities are rearranging equipment to allow social distancing. This makes sense but is it all they can do? Are there other enhancements or changes that could be accomplished while participation is down?
Have you considered whether your organization has a product line that is not producing and the source of the problem? Is it a lack of product knowledge by the sales force? Now is the time to update the training program that can be delivered virtually or in small groups. While the sales force is not as actively engaged, are you using this opportunity for training events?
Do you have a piece of equipment, a software application, a system causing an inordinate amount of downtime or just not operating efficiently? Several years ago, I was contracted to solve a technology issue with the remote sales force. The problem had been looked at by several technicians, but they couldn’t spend the necessary time investigating. It took three days to resolve, do you have similar challenges?
Take time now or bring in someone to help you find your opportunities!
COVID-19 Success Story
Read this article about the completion of the Salt Lake City Airport. Salt Lake found the benefit in the pandemic when the reduced airport traffic enabled construction in passenger areas to progress at a faster clip and saved $300 Million dollars and took years off the project!
Virtual Project Meetings
Successfully completing projects on time and at or under budget, is a challenge in the best of times. All projects are subject to distractions, modifications, scope creep, interference, special requests, and personal agendas, which, if allowed, will throw a project off schedule and destroy the budget. Business managers must exercise control over project managers, team members and stakeholders to prevent or at least mitigate distractions.
According to the PMBOK, Project Management Book of Knowledge, project control is to be exercised through face-to-face individual and team meetings. These are the times when the executive or project owner can examine the current status and, if necessary, reset focus to ensure the project stays on or gets back on track. This is also the point where control is frequently lost because individual agendas can change the focus.
COVID-19 makes face-to-face meetings difficult, if not impossible! However, today’s technology can overcome those limitations. Even better this is an opportunity to rethink the process. Instead of being tied to the physical presence of a face-to-face meeting use virtual meetings. Face-to-face meetings can be difficult to arrange because of travel schedules or other issues. Virtual meetings overcome these issues because they are just that “virtual”. They can happen anywhere and at any time. Excuses for not meeting become more difficult to justify.
Virtual Meetings Provide More Control
Virtual meetings are easier for the project owner to control. Ground rules can be set requiring participants to be muted and the organizer can control this. Those wishing to speak can be required to signal that desire and, if the input goes off topic, the organizer can respectfully put an end to it.
Mitigating Project Scope Creep
Physical meetings can drag on, virtual meetings should not be endless. They should be arranged for a set amount of time (30 – 60 minutes) with a specific, previously shared agenda and when the time is up, the meeting ends. Topics, that are not part of the project should be addressed separately to manage and mitigate scope creep.
Social Distancing in Project Meetings
Today, face-to-face meetings lose much of their value as we practice social distancing and wear masks. We have lost the “close up” benefits where we can “read” the other side and see important facial expressions. These are key to really understanding the other person.
Virtual meetings do not require masks or social distancing: expressions are still “out in the open”. You sit at a normal distance from your computer and, as long as you have a decent screen size, you can read the facial expressions.
After reading this article you, business executives and owners, should be asking what are your COVID-19 opportunities? What projects have you put off? Don’t waste any more time: THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!