We are in unprecedented times as far as recent history is concerned. Who would have predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to such an immediate and widespread change to how we live our lives. Whilst we take steps to embrace the new ‘norm’, one of face masks, social distancing and deserted city centres, perhaps it is more pertinent now than ever before to think about what will define our legacy.
When most people think of a legacy, they tend to have grand plans of addressing climate change or to have some kind of global impact on the world. Whilst this is commendable and well-intentioned, a legacy needn’t have to be something on a global scale. Leaving a legacy is about leaving an impact on those that are closest and dearest to you. We should constantly be making incremental steps towards that better version of ourselves, for it is by making these small steps towards our goals that we will realise our legacy.
One particularly powerful way we, as project professionals, can leave a legacy is through initiatives like UpRising, the One Million Mentors initiative launched by the government. There are numerous other schemes out there where you can volunteer to provide guidance and assistance to those starting their careers. Through these initiatives you can help positively shape the lives of others through the experience and knowledge you have gained from working in industry.
Another fantastic opportunity project professionals have is to leave legacies through the projects we deliver. There are many ways to do this, here are just a few…
Define the vision
The project team, including the client, must have a strong vision or purpose for undertaking the project. The project manager needs to embed this vision in the project team and refer back to it when things aren’t going so well.
Challenge the project team to ensure you know what the project drivers are and what they contribute towards. If they’re not clear, encourage the project team to refine these as it’s important this is set out in the project.
Share the message
By having a clear purpose, you create a more focused team who in turn can then disseminate this message to stakeholders and the wider public. Embed this within the project team, but also importantly to stakeholders on the project.
I have found that a strong vision helps steer the project through difficult waters. On a recent project, which had its fair share of ups and downs, we were able to reflect back on the vision that was set for the project at the outset and re-evaluate our performance against this. It led to some refinement of the solution and helped us communicate our story of the evolution of the project to stakeholders.
Once the project has been completed, the project team can look back in pride at what they have achieved, knowing that the end goal (the vision) has been realised. It keeps project teams focused and motivated to deliver exceptional outcomes.
Project professionals have a privileged position in society as it is our community of experts who lead projects which bring about change in society. Take personal pride in the projects you are delivering so that by the end of the project you can look back at the legacy you have left behind.
Discover the skills you need to help define your legacies through projects at APM Learning. New modules on portfolio and programme management now available.
Image: Shutterstock / MicroOne