Top Project Challenge = Communication

Top Project Opportunity = Increased Collaboration

Reminder, you cannot have good Collaboration without good Communication.

In almost all project management conferences, they ask what are the top challenges or reasons of project failure and most of the time, Communication will be within the top 3. This is not only common to Canada but the world. 

There is also irony in this, since we normally take for granted how communication should be sooooo simple.  We often end meetings or assign tasks and end off with the statement:  "Okay, is everyone clear, if not please speak up". 

Then we think that we did our job by saying that silly statement.  We forget that humans don't like to speak up when they feel dumb or they did not understand.  Maybe 50% of the group understands and runs with it, 25% watches the ones running with it and then they are okay, then the other 25% struggle because it was not clear or formulate their own ideas to fill in the gaps they have and then go about doing their own thing (which often is not aligned with the initial plan).

I also am a coach for my kids hockey.  When on the ice with kids, ready to do a hockey drill, it is amazing how often I have seen coaches give instructions, then end off by saying "Okay, is that clear, does everyone understand".  And then there is silence - so Coach assumes it is clear.  At times when I am on the ice, even I do not understand or the instructions were too long, but I am afraid to put up my hand to say, can you please explain it again or break it down into smaller parts.

Then sure enough, the coach blows his whistle and rushes all of us into the drill, the kids start the drill and over half are doing it wrong.... then the coach gets frustrated or just ignores it and half the kids get no growth or learning from the drill.

How do we learn from this and not get frustrated and try to do this with limited time and budget!!!! Also how do we deal with the growing need to leverage knowledge, skills, experiences, perspectives, interests, etc. from outside your normal team.

One exciting thing is that times have changed rapidly due to technology and more and more people understand what is a methodology or a system and what tools are available to support.

 It does not matter if you are working on projects internally, or with other groups in the province or country or other groups outside your country...... we all need to have systems and expectations in place that will help us manage our communications......... and thus will enable more effective, efficient and value-added collaboration.

 Key examples to help with communmication:
  1. Treat it formally and professionally (respect it) - this is difficult since it comes naturally to all of us (like walking) however we can still use methodologies, planning and professional tools and techniques to improve it and take it to the next level  (e.g. try to research speed walking and you will see how complex it can be and why it is also recognized as a professional sport - yes this will take effort and resources and it should be part of your operations and project budgets)
  2. Instill systems (a formalized approach as to how the communications will be carried out)
  3. Leverage tools and technology (simplest tools can include checklists, most complex tools include social media type softwares that link to back-end databases - you do not have to marry the tool or technology, use it for a project, get the value, then keep it on your belt for the future and move on)
  4. Have a plan with milestones when to continually review your systems and update/evolve them (your collaboration will start to grow and become more successful however, you will never reach perfection and will always have to work at it)
  5. Do not get frustrated and be patient, remember to have a good communication there are three parts that are fully integrated/overlapping:  Sender - Message - Receiver.   If the process is not successful, all three parts must take accountability since they all must blend together to be successful and there are always ways to improve any of the three parts - but we always must balance them in accordance with the priorities (e.g. time, money, quality, risk, etc).

  A great link that talks more on this is: