Communication in the real world

It is universally acknowledged that successful projects require excellent communications, but that rarely translates into good practice. With communications a key part of the ITIL framework, here is a basic guide to getting it right.

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Read any project “lessons learnt” report and it will say “we should have had better communication”. Read any book on business change and it will say you have to concentrate on “communication, communication, communication”. Listen to any politician and they will always complain that their “message is just not getting across”.

The simple fact is that everyone knows that communication is a key element not only in projects, but also in our every day lives.

Communication is basically “the sharing of information”. However when it comes to actually communicating, very little credence is given to it. It is always something that “someone else does”, or “we can send out an e-mail”, or “nothing has been agreed yet”, or “put it on the SharePoint”….

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In project terms, it becomes a job, a chore, a nuisance, something that we haven’t got time for, something that we can’t do yet or something that can wait.

However whilst waiting, those people impacted by any project or change (stakeholders) will always assume the worst, make their own things up and spread rumour and doubt. Thus “not communicating”, becomes a communication in its own right.

The first communication hurdle to jump, therefore, is to convince your project or change programme, that communication is a vital element for success.

Ah yes, success! Defining success, measuring success, celebrating success and communicating success is also important, but a topic for another time. To convince your project that communication is vital, you can explain that communication is:

  • The top lesson learnt from any change programme
  • One of the top five challenges to change programmes
  • Fundamental to business change success
  • Fundamental to winning stakeholder heads, hearts and hands
  • Used to inform, involve and influence
  • Used to get stakeholders to take action
  • Used to reduce resistance to change
  • Used to set expectations and prepare stakeholders

OK, so now your project is convinced that communication is vital and they have even appointed a Communication Manager.

We now need to deliver on that expectation, so we need to ensure that we communicate properly and that our project lessons learnt report does not say “we should have had better communication”.

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