Episode 282: Reinventing Project Communication (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for The PMP Exam:
Communications is just something that we project managers do… right? It’s not something that we normally design, measure or use to manage performance… right?
In his new book titled Reinventing Communication he proposes that project communication can indeed become a rigorous performance management tool and, further, that managing communication as a performance management tool is essential for delivering desired outcomes. It is essential because all projects are social environments.
In the interview Mark introduces us not only to how to use project communication as a performance management tool, but also to the elements of communication design, how a hard tool can help project communication, how good communication determines project outcomes, and he introduces us to two checklists included in the book that will help you design your project communication for performance management.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 282. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner.
Communication is something that we project managers do, right? It's not something that we normally design, measure or use to even manage performance, right? Well, Mark Phillips says wrong.
In his new book titled "Reinventing Communication" he proposes that project communication can indeed become a rigorous performance management tool and further that managing communications as a performance management tool is essential for delivering desired outcomes. It is essential because all projects are social environments.
This episode is sponsored by The Project Management PrepCast™ at www.pm-prepcast.com. If you are thinking of becoming PMP certified, then why not do what you are doing right now - use a Podcast. Over 25,000 project managers so far have watched the PrepCast video lessons to prepare for their exam. Give it a try at www.pm-prepcast.com/free.
In the interview, Mark introduces us not only to how to use communication as a performance management tool but also to the elements of communication design, how a hard tool like software can help project communication, how good communication determines project outcomes, and he introduces us to 2 checklists that are included in the book that will help you design communication to performance management.
If you would like to win a copy of his book, then all you have to do is to participate in the giveaway. Just go to www.facebook.com/pmpodcast. As always we have 1 copy of the book that is reserved for our Premium subscribers and the second one that we are giving away to Facebook to anyone who leaves a comment in the book giveaway announcement. Good luck everyone!
And now, communication may be a two-way street. But right now, you just have to listen and enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Mark Phillips, author of "Reinventing Communication".
Cornelius Fichtner:Hello, Mark! Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!
Mark Phillips: Thank you, Cornelius! Pleasure to be back!
Cornelius Fichtner: It's been awhile. I just checked and I think it's been 4 years since we had you on last. So this is overdue. This is overdue.
So there are already dozens of books about project communication out there. Why did you have to write another one?
Mark Phillips: That's a great question. There is certainly no lack of books about project management certainly on communication. But what I saw was there was preponderance of focus on the soft side and the soft skills related to project communication, and communication in general. And those are incredibly important and certainly, it's that soft aspect of it that helps communication work.
But over the last 10 or 15 years as the tools that we used have evolved and we have started to use communication tools that are all electronic and create their own artifacts, I started to see the possibility for actually creating measurable communication metrics and this might be a little bit because of EVM background that I come from but I saw that there was a way now to bridge that gap between the soft skills and the measurable metrics that to us as project managers very often tend to because it helps us be professional project managers, as well as those are the metrics that board members or stakeholders tend to respond to the best.
I like to phrase it that 'you can't go into a project and say we're behind schedule because we haven't had enough company retreats. We haven't done enough trust falls.' But if you can actually go into a stakeholder meeting and communicate to them that: "Look! Our communication process and the communication objects and artifacts that we're using are not effective and this is the impact that is having on performance…" Well then you can start to get buy-in and really sell the importance of communication and at the same time actually plan a path on how to improve that communication because it's all tracked against that measurable baseline.
Cornelius Fichtner: What can our listeners expect to learn from our conversation today?
Mark Phillips: Sure! Just picking out 3 points to learn. The first is the importance of communication on project outcomes and not just that it's important to get the message across, but that it actually impacts the performance of your projects. There is a great definition in the PMBOK that talks about the effectiveness of communication as being something that creates a bridge between stakeholders, cultures, organizational backgrounds and the such and really talks about effective communication as being one where the message gets across.
What I would like people to come away with is that effective communication actually can be gauged against the performance of the project. So understanding that communication effects project performance directly, that's the first one.
The second point would be that effective communication can actually be measured, taught and built up as an organizational process asset. It can become a key institutional asset and differentiator between other organizations and other programs so that you can create effective communication in a tangible, measurable, trackable and optimizable way.
And the third one is that effective communication is critical to creating innovation. Innovation comes from people across boundaries and being able to collaborate and share knowledge and create new knowledge. An effective communication creates the environment where that can happen.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So let's open up your book but before we open it up, I actually stopped at the cover page and my eyebrows went up because it's called "Reinventing Communication." Why reinventing? Does that have something to do with what you said earlier about now being able to have some measures on top of the communication?
Mark Phillips: Absolutely! You hit the nail on the head, Cornelius. Communication can now be thought of as, I don’t want to say it's a hard skill but certainly more of the science part of the social science that is project management rather than the soft skills part of it.
My goal is not to say that it's 'either/or,' it's an 'and' approach because there are certainly people who are excellent communicators and naturally gifted communicators and naturally gifted consultants that can help organizations craft their communications but I would like to build a bridge between those people who have those natural talents and people who may be more metrics-oriented and more process-oriented showing that communication is in fact a process and can be measured exactly as you said and that's a whole new way of thinking about communication.
Cornelius Fichtner: The book has 2 parts and according to the introduction, part 1 introduces us to the idea that we should use communication as you say as a performance management tool because communication determines project outcomes and the capabilities of any project environment. Can you summarize for us why you are making this argument?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.