“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
The opening paragraph from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is suddenly relevant in our hugely imbalanced world. As we see all that is happening with and around us, we cannot help but ponder when will we see a normal life again. And, how normal would that life be!
None of us have a crystal ball, but as project managers, let us try to distill the situation and plan for what is ahead. Undoubtedly, it’s been an upsetting year so far – a year that had a pandemic, swarms of locusts, protests over the deaths of vulnerable people all around the world, nations on the brink of armed conflicts, and two cyclones wreaking havoc. And, it’s just halfway through 2020.
There is no quick bounce back from the current situation. Economies of nations are under duress and every aspect from production and consumption to exports are seeing losses and limited demand. The consumer confidence in India has eroded with the current situation index (CSI) touching historic low and the one year ahead future expectations index (FEI) also recording a sharp fall, entering the zone of pessimism, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Sharp cuts in discretionary spending is reflected in the -89% negative growth in automobile sales volume in May 2020, compared to May 2019.
However, there are green shoots. New Zealand has eradicated Covid-19 and Australia is very close. Many countries in Europe are removing restrictions and planning to open domestic and intra-Europe travels. India has relaxed restriction rules in most areas except the containment zones. Even though the cases increase, the number of people getting better is more than the number of active infected. Though it’s too early to predict when the rates will flatten in the US and developing nations like Brazil and India, we remain cautiously optimistic.
The pandemic has shown us that we can work from anywhere if we have to. Expect this trend to continue and fewer travels for business meetings or conferences. As managers, we have started to get better control of our teams even if we are not co-located. Reliance on technology to create advanced reporting and work allocation has seen an uptick and we can expect more absorption. Use of intelligent automated solutions for the construction industry will grow, limiting dependence on manual production. We will have to be prepared for a changed world.
Lastly, we would like to remind everyone that keeping yourselves mentally active and healthy has never been this important. Talking to people over phone, remaining active through Yoga or free-hand exercises, laughing with friends on video calls, playing with your children or pets, all of these are equally important today to stay safe, stay sane.
Thanks and Best Wishes
Subramanyam Krishnamurthy (Mani), PMP
Editorial Content Credit : Himadri S Chowdhury, PMP