Listen. Do You Want To Know a Secret?

So what's in the news these days? Hacking. Demise of the NOTW. Loss of trust in senior police officers. The death of a whistleblower who reported on the man who later worked for the political party now in power. And perhaps some lessons to be learned for project management.

I will not bore you with the detail from the news stories because quite frankly I cannot keep up, and you can read it for yourselves from several sources (although clearly not in the News of the World). So much interest was there in the voicemails and conversations of the rich, famous, influential and news-worthy that allegedly some very dodgy journalistic practices took place. And some very senior stakeholders let this happen, and may even have helped. That's unethical, professionally unacceptable even though common practice, and pretty naughty to put it mildly.

Slapped wrists will no doubt ensue, and whilst this blogger is pleased that some high profile people are resigning and 'accountability' is being touted as the way ahead, we will still have to wait for the evidence. Select committees will now take over, and if you watched previous hearings then this may fill you with confidence that the truth will out. Or it might not. It will however make good viewing, possibly even better than The Apprentice.

Now there's an example of going through a formulaic and protracted process that should have been done differently, and then ending up with an outcome clearly better suited to Dragon's Den. Compulsive viewing, but heavily flawed.

And so to project management. Various debates have raged in our profession about the value of the delivery process over actual outcomes, aligning project objectives with realisable benefits, and engaging stakeholders vs. actually managing them. And communication. Lots of it is needed, at the right time, and to the right people. It is no longer just about what you say and how you say it. It's also very much about who's listening, and making sure you are being heard by the right people in a professionally acceptable manner. 

Therefore control over communication is an issue for all projects, and as Jedi Jim the champion of the cliché might have put it ... ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. So we all have to be more careful about how we communicate with others, as was discussed and debated in the PROMS-G Spring School this year. Social media offers benefits but has its challenges. Communication plans are helpful but not rigorously followed if/when they indeed exist. NLP is a powerful technique that may help you to understand and interpret what is being said, or perhaps what should be said. There are intra-team, inter-team and complex external project communication requirements.

There is still no perfect way to monitor and manage all of this, and nobody says you have to, but reflecting on the approach to and consequences of your communications is to be strongly recommended. Long before the project autopsy.

Comments (3)

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  • 1
    dsouthey wrote on 22nd Jul 2011

    Hear, hear. I must say I've yet to see anything in a Project Communication Plan addressing the possibility of phone/email hacking ...

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  • 2
    Project Eye wrote on 30th Jul 2011

    I guess it depends on the project and the project interests. And the company you work for. There has been a lot in the press recently about MPs and committees slating big IT consultancies for 'ripping off' government on their procurement practices, and it is only now that something seems to be happening to stop this. How much should a desktop PC cost again? Now those communications and the originators would be eminently hackable, and the Communication Plan would make interesting reading ... but totally unethical to do this of course ...

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  • 3
    Project Eye wrote on 31st Jul 2011

    And for those not au fait with the news regarding the alleged disreputable behaviour of a 'cartel' of large IT suppliers, try this link:

    http://www.silicon.com/management/public-sector/2011/07/28/obscene-amount-of-money-wasted-mps-demand-probe-over-it-collusion-claims-39747751/?s_cid=105

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