Skarbek Associates CEO Paul Heugh was featured in The Project this month with a case for the argument that Brexit offers an immediate opportunity for project managers to step up.
The Brexit vote has pushed British company into a volatile and uncertain business environment, pulling the rug from under many project managers’ feet. However, paralysis is not an option. The first step is to capture the dimensions of the uncertainty.
A full Brexit analysis of the risks, assumptions, issues and decisions (a RAID log) is critical. A careful exploration of potential scenarios will reveal strategic options to address each possible outcome.
Project managers can use a scenario-planning exercise to identify strategies that are valid across a high proportion of scenarios; these should probably be implemented immediately, before we know the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Other strategies may emerge that significantly mitigate risk or generate opportunities only in specific circumstances. It is important to know in advance what might trigger their implementation.
Project managers can play a critical role in steadying the ship in these uncertain times. The fact that almost anything could happen is not an acceptable reason for procrastination.
Project managers are well placed to provide insight and support leaders’ duty to make business-critical decisions in uncertain times. Such as whether to bet on strategies that increase investment or reduce exposure. But identifying strategies is not enough; they must test them ‘Red teaming’, whereby independent teams scrutinise plans and projects is another valuable tool which can be put to good use in a Brexit world.
Red teams challenge assumptions and shake up thinking. They offer alternative perspectives and rigorously test strategies to identify weaknesses.
The intention of these preparations is not to create stability or predict the future. However, they enable decisive action at the critical moment when circumstances reveal themselves. We are in an environment now where hesitation can cost jobs and speed can win market share; project managers, step up.