7 Habits of Highly Effective Projects – Habit #5: Empathize, Adapt & Overcome

In the United States Marine Corps, soldiers are taught to improvise, adapt and overcome. It has become an unofficial mantra because of how true life can really be when you are “in it”. Essentially, military leaders know that no plan is perfect and that they must be prepared for the unexpected. 
 
It’s an adage that has been adopted by successful businesses around the globe—and is an essential habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Projects with a small twist.
 
While capital program management plans are not a life/death battle per se, the point is that best-in-class owners empathize, adapt and overcome, especially when it comes to technology-driven process implementation. It is a small but important change from improvise to empathize but making the shift will help you build better team and better projects. 
 
Top owners seek first to understand the challenges. Then they lead a technology-enabled approach through a collaborative implementation with their construction and project managers, while at the same time retaining their strategy for success. 
 
It’s not easy, but a best-in-class owner knows that the best solution to improve productivity, streamline processes and drive efficiency requires some adjustment once it makes it into the field. Therefore, these leaders listen; they ask stakeholders what they need to make their jobs easier and where are the bottlenecks that slow processes.  They talk to adjacent stakeholders, including those in accounting and finance, as well as primary suppliers such as architects, construction managers and contractors. 
 
In summary, best-in-class owners seek first to understand before being understood—a fundamental tenet of active listening.   
 
Best-in-class owner Banner Health adopted this habit to eliminate the chance of surprise overruns by implementing an efficient cost control and forecasting process. The cost forecasting process was customized to fit the stakeholder needs. Ultimately, the healthcare organization was able to leverage $70 million in savings from active projects to fund a new cancer center.
 
So borrow from the lessons learned by military strategists for hundreds of years: empathize, adapt and overcome. Talk to your stakeholders, adapt your processes to best fit the greater good of the project and overcome all those traditional bottlenecks that cause delays, discontent and money. 

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