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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about crisis management.

How Contractors Can Deal with a Technology Crisis

How Contractors Can Deal with a Technology CrisisThe best independent contractors are the ones who clients see as experts in their field and the truly dependable, go-to person. They develop the best plans, troubleshoot the hardest problems, and come up with the best solutions to the most complex requirements. Above all, the most reputable and trusted technology contractors are the ones who navigate a crisis so smoothly that, even if the end-results are far from ideal, the client still feels they were supported by the most capable IT professional.

For the sake of this post, we’re considering “crisis” to be a situation when a technology breaks or malfunctions to the point that your client’s day-to-date operations are in jeopardy, services are drastically impaired, and/or money is being lost. The way in which you handle such a crisis to bring operations back on track impacts your reputation as an independent contractor significantly. So, when faced with such adversity, it’s in your best interest to roll up your sleeves, step up to the plate, and lead your client and the entire team through the turmoil. Great… so how do you do that?

  1. Stay in the Right Frame of Mind: Before you even talk to people or start tackling issues, the first step when entering “crisis mode” is to be in the proper frame of mind. That means taking a step back to remain calm and positive, without letting emotion get in the way.
  2. Evaluate the Situation: You still aren’t physically doing anything. Now that your head is in the right state of mind, you need to carefully evaluate everything that’s happened and is still happening. Know clearly which stakeholders are being affected, what’s needed to fix the problem, and who will need to be involved. It should be noted that these first two steps need to be completed as quickly as possible. Time is always a factor and it goes by quickly in a crisis, so you need to act quickly so things don’t spin further out of control.
  3. Take Control: People act differently in a crisis. Some will do absolutely nothing except panic. Others will do far worse — they’ll do absolutely everything (usually unhelpful things). Your job is to take control to ensure people are doing what they need to be doing to get through the crisis — nothing more and nothing less. Show your understanding of the situation, explain your plan, and exude confidence so that people want to follow you.
  4. Start Delegating: Assuming you’re in an environment where you’re the most senior person with the most knowledge of the affected technologies, doing all the work means others are sitting on their hands. You may feel like you’re not contributing, but organizing different people and coordinating outcomes is the task a leader needs to focus on.
  5. Stay Realistic: If you’ve properly evaluated the situation, then you should know what the best outcome is going to be. The crisis will end in a worst situation than when you started, so prepare for that and don’t try to fix everything perfectly quite yet. At this stage, you’re still trying to stop the bleeding, regain control, and get everything working well enough so daily tasks can resume.
  6. Evaluate the Situation: We loved Step 2 so much that we’re bringing it back. Once the problem is solved and business is back on track, it’s time to evaluate the situation. What went wrong? What’s still wrong? What was the impact? Who needs to be informed? These are all important questions to discuss with your client to ensure that the crisis is over and that it doesn’t happen again.

Sometimes, your job as an IT contractor in a crisis situation is to follow the delegated person on the client site. In these cases, follow protocol; the organizational structure of your client site will dictate if you’re the right person to lead or not. If you are required to step up, how you react in a crisis will have a direct effect on how those around you also deal with the situation. By leading calmly and rationally, people (especially those who are panicking) will want to follow you. When you maintain a level head and follow the steps above, your followers will too, resulting in a successful end to the crisis, so you can start putting pieces back together and move your project back on track.

Garry Berteig Reflects on Being Agile in a Crisis

This post by Rachel Perry originally appeared on the Agile Advice Blog on August 24th, 2016

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Garry Berteig Reflects on Being Agile in a CrisisOn May 03, 2016 wildfires encompassing Fort McMurray, Alberta forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 residents, including many friends, family and associates of BERTEIG.

One such resident was Garry Berteig, a co-founder of OpenAgile, and long-time resident of Fort McMurray.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Garry from his home in northern Alberta. He presents some meaningful insights into how living and working with an agile mindset helped him and his family move through the disaster with stability. The following articles shares, in his words, some highlights of his experience during and after the event.

BEING AGILE IN A CRISIS
By Senior Agile Coach Garry Berteig

Most of the time, when you are acting with agility you are sort of ready for change or turn in direction anyhow. You know what you have to do so your tasks are already in motion, your tasks are already moving towards “done”, not that you have your suitcase packed already but you already know what is the most important thing.

It’s the same for corporations. It’s just not so direct or life-threatening as this catastrophe was but for some companies catastrophe is a slow burn.

The actuality about what occurred, was quite different than the media reports. The media reports were at best simple, at worst a high-level notion.

Yes there was a line of cars, and they show a line up of cars [in the news] but it doesn’t tell you that some people were in one way or another in a state of calm because they are used to being involved in safety measure. That group was relatively calm.

There’s another set of people who were actually terrified and not able to be rational so they have to be handled carefully.

Then another group of people who were on the opposite extreme were kind of ‘having a good time.’ It was taking them away from their normal routines so they were making light of the whole situation. They were rolling windows down, playing loud music, giving peace-signs, stuff like that.

The real take-home point, having landed in Edmonton and being involved with people here is that the kindness, hospitality, generousity and sympathy that people revealed was amazing.

This is a feature that I share and have been sharing with other people who have also found the same thing. It’s been quite remarkable. Their private lives had an opportunity present itself openly. In my opinion, it represents a spiritual condition. Usually people hold that in to themselves and have no opportunity to express that. [They want to be kind, generous and helpful but keep it internalized.]

The government and non-profits have also been incredibly efficient and helpful. Because of all the other experiences with other catastrophes, their quick response to 90,000 people leaving Fort McMurray was remarkable. Within one week they had arranged for financial support for all those people. That to me is the material future of Canada. It is positive. The material and spiritual future of Canada is very great. And that is what I’ve seen here.

The other point is that before Fort McMurray was black-listed by the media but that has turned 180 degrees. Now people will realize the participation in this city from all over the country. The nation raised 1 million through the Red Cross.

Thankfully, not only is Garry and his family safe and well but all other friends and associates are also settling back into their routines and beginning the long journey ahead of restoration and recovery.

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UPDATE: August 03, 2016 – Unbelievably, epic flooding has now hit Fort McMurray, and in places the flood waters are damaging houses which had survived the fire. More updates will be shared as they emerge. Garry’s family is still doing well.