India won the third test match in South Africa at Wanderers stadium, having lost the first two matches, the final result was 2-1 in favour of South Africa. Let us step back in time.
The Indian team was on cloud nine with 8 consecutive series wins since 2015. Winning series after series on home turf notably against opposition like South Africa and Australia. The wickets in South Africa were a different cup of tea. With the ball bouncing and seaming the batsmen were all at sea. The first test was a sad sight, seeing the star studded Indian batting lineup playing and missing. The second test was suicidal on a wicket that was typically subcontinent.
What does this teach us from Project Management perspective? Let us superimpose the Project Management framework to the game of cricket and each test series as a project. The ‘projects’ in India were all on familiar environment tailor made for success. The team was well adapted, it did not matter who the opponents were, a single strategy was enough to bring home the bacon. Indians packed the same strategy along with their playing kits and travelled to South Africa. The strategy that once was a recipe for success was suddenly brittle. A new project strategy was necessary, more important a new mindset was necessary.
The principles of Project Management and the project framework are situations, time tested. However, all projects are not the same. The environment may be different. It may be the organizational, business, industry, technological, regulatory or ecological environment. The same strategy will not always work. The skills and experience of a Project Manager to adapt and navigate in a new environment comes to the fore. There is no fixed recipe to quickly apply in such cases. The only available option is to be proactive and ‘live and learn’ and quickly adapt. This is where team building and communication plays a decisive part in a project success. In difficult situations the team’s morale is low and shadow communication often negative and disruptive. It is for the Project Manager to sense the pulse and direct the team. Ethics and transparency plays a major part in these troubled times.
A good Project Manager is one who can turnaround a difficult project. An effective strategy is to gather the team and recognise there is a problem. Once recognised, brainstorm alternate solutions and using consensus apply the best one with a fall back option. Communicate on a daily basis with stake holders and may be even more frequently to the team till the ‘red alert’ is on. Identify success points, low hanging fruits and demonstrate accomplishments that raise the team morale. Soon one will see the inflexion point where the project is on the right course. It is not lightly said, that nothing succeeds like success. It’s people who drive a project and success brings in positivity.
The third test in South Africa played on a deadly track, India won. I think it was team dynamics and the will to succeed that brought India the victory.
Thanks and Best Wishes
Tanish Mathur, PMP, PMI-ACP