Today we are opening a weekly series of Guest blog posts from a team of experienced project managers who will be familiar to many of you: Sarah Coleman, Vicki Griffiths, Ian Cribbes and Tim Lyons who are gathering and collating stories and insight drawn from the P3M community.

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Early in 2020 few of us envisaged how significant an impact COVID-19 would be to us: the economy, how we work, education, health and freedom of movement in the UK and worldwide.  It has been a matter of months, but feels like a lifetime.  But during that short time, we’ve had to change at a pace and scale we would not have previously anticipated or even considered workable.  Our professional lives have had to be rapidly reassessed: some of us have been furloughed, others are finding that remote and flexible working is the norm rather than an outlier (only 30% of UK employees worked from home during 2019, according to the Office of National Statistics [1]).  Our personal lives and caring responsibilities have become more complex in a short space of time.  As we work from home whether in a corner of the living room, a spare bedroom or a dedicated home office with or without interruptions from family or pets we wonder about our previous ideas over work-life balance.  Our current ‘new normal’ is different and we don’t yet understand what a next ‘new normal’ might look like: we are still improving our understanding of COVID-19 epidemiology and its total impact.

Over the next weeks, we’ll introduce Lessons from Lockdown: ideas, reflections and learning from our own P3M community and others. We will look at the past and present to help decipher what we want from and for the future.  We already know that our community is incredibly diverse in terms of experience, expertise, industry and types of projects as well as in terms of race, gender, religion, ways of learning and ways of thinking.

Lessons from Lockdown will be based around the following questions: where do we as a P3M community go from here? What skills, competences and behaviours do we need for the future? What can we take from the past to help plan our future?  What are the positives we can take from lockdown and apply for the future; similarly, what do we want to leave behind?  What are the negatives have we noticed and what can we learn from them?  We know that projects, programmes and portfolios are about change.  What behavioural models can we make more sense of – for example, since COVID-19 has driven substantial change what have we noticed in terms of the similarities between our own experiences of lockdown and the often cited ‘change /transition curve’ developed through the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross[2], and setting out the five states of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Similarly, we have the burning platform beloved by John Kotter[3] but no specific vision for the future since we recognise the emergent nature of what we are going through and need to react to, rather than more structured planned change that organisations are more used to.

We’ll look at these questions from the perspective of the individual and of the organisation since the latter is what so many of us depend on for our income and livelihoods.  While we individually consider our respective versions of new normal, organisations need to think long and hard about how they move forward.  Some have the type of culture or procedures that were never set up to deal with a critical mass of staff working remotely.

We expect a further transition period of several months while the UK continues to tentatively move out of lockdown.  Over the next weeks, we will feature guest blogs from the P3M community and beyond covering creativity and innovation, collaboration, resilience and wellbeing, and future skills.  We will also welcome your input and thoughts around your own experiences and insights about lockdown.  The Lessons from Lockdown team are Sarah Coleman, Vicki Griffiths, Ian Cribbes and Tim Lyons. If you would like to contribute or discuss your ideas, please contact me on LinkedIn or at sarah.coleman@businessevolution.co.

Keep safe and well, and continue to take care of your physical and mental health.  Very kind regards.

Sarah Coleman, 9th June, 2020

Other posts in the series

Lessons from Lockdown: Introduction

Lessons from Lockdown: Resilience

Lessons from Lockdown: Creativity and Innovation

Lessons from Lockdown: Behaviour and Mindsets

Lessons from Lockdown: Risk and Decision Making

Lessons from Lockdown: Influencing at a Distance

[1] www.employeebenefits.co.uk/30-uk-work-home-2019/.  Accessed 31 May 2020

[2] Kubler-Ross, E. (2008) On death and dying (40th anniversary edition). Routledge.

[3] Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change. Harvard Business Review Press

Other posts in the series

Lessons from Lockdown: Introduction

Lessons from Lockdown: Collaboration

Lessons from Lockdown: Resilience

Lessons from Lockdown: Creativity and Innovation

Lessons from Lockdown: Behaviour and Mindsets

Lessons from Lockdown: Risk and Decision Making

Lessons from Lockdown: Influencing at a Distance

Lessons from Lockdown: How to See Opportunities in Threats