Project management crisis guidelines

Crisis management principles I practice

After successfully leading 80 projects, I’d like to share some key principles that have worked well for us at OWDT. Among lessons I’ve learned– organizational project management theory is often too general for direct, easy application. Reading about how to play football, for example, can’t possibly build the ‘muscle memory’ and other skills required to be a competitor on the playing field. It takes a lot of real world practice to execute a successful pass.

If you are a project manager, you probably have dealt with more than a few nightmare crises. Through trial and error, I have come to rely on four golden core principles to help me lower stress and ensure better outcomes in dealing with challenges, especially big ones. These guidelines are not limited to project/product launch management, applying beautifully to any situation in life.

  • Treat Crises as Opportunities
    Attitude plays a determining role in the outcome of any crisis. We’re much better off ‘framing’ (i.e., defining) the problem positively–by seeing it as an opportunity to improve the original plan and prevent what could have been an even bigger crisis in the long term. The road to success requires that a leader be optimistic (in a grounded, fact-based way, of course) so that team members can gain the encouragement and inspiration they need to explore workable solutions to any challenge. For managers, crisis management challenges do, in fact, become progressively easier to handle over time, generating the ultimate reward of deep satisfaction grounded in the confidence that comes from mastery.
  •  Be Fearless and Don’t Make Excuses
    I still vividly remember my first big multimillion-dollar company project. My team’s positive attitude helped us stay on track for ultimate success. We chose not to be intimidated by the project’s scope or the high-powered C-level client representatives we partnered throughout the process. Sure, we experienced some problems along the way. However, we met all our project goals on time by facing those challenges with a steady focus on solutions. After all, we were not being paid to make excuses.
  • Take Action
    Don’t get me wrong on this one. As a project manager, it’s your job to research all applicable information going into a project to anticipate problems as best you can. However, when a crisis hits you in the face, you have to think fast and take action. In short, you need to quickly evaluate all available information and then quickly take action while a fix remains possible.
  •  Celebrate
    Take time to enjoy your success and cherish the moment. After overcoming a challenge, you and your team absolutely should celebrate! Nothing is better than infusing the spirit with joy and happiness after resolving a crisis. So take some time off, even if it’s nothing more than a short lunch break, to celebrate with your team. After all, it is your TEAM that resolved the problem. Great products cannot be created or launched by a lone individual.