learn to communicate a clear vision of your project

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in order to communicate effectively on the vision, we need:

  • to have a clear vision
  • to deeply understand the objectives
  • to synthesize them
  • to adapt the vision to each and every person or stakeholder of the project
  • to keep it extremely simple and very concise

indeed, how could we communicate clearly if we do not have a very clear vision of the project?

It is critical to grasp and integrate all the objectives of the project: financial, professional, technical, human, process, strategic, tactical… An exercise that is very complex and nevertheless mandatory because as long as we do not understand in the details the objectives of the project, we cannot synthesize and explain them in a simple, understandable and consistent way.

furthermore, the communication of the vision must be adapted to each interlocutor:

  • the technical team
  • the future users of the project’s deliverables
  • the management
  • the sponsors and other stakeholders
  • etc.

All may have different and at the same time very valid expectations from the project. It is necessary to deliver such a communication in an extremely precise, simple and concise way not to loose the audience in a vague hubbub.

And, I agree, this is easier to say than to do…

However, I've seen it done with virtuosity on several projects and witnessed complete failure of others!

let's look at a couple of examples

a good one

One of these successes was a project of deployment of new financial and logistic processes, systems and organization. The synthetic vision was that this project was going to allow the whole company to share a unique truth on its accounts across the world, at every hierarchical level, and for each of the divisions and product lines.

The communication per type of interlocutor integrated this core message and added tailored messages to the interlocutors:

  • for the technicians, the fact that we were migrating towards a leading software package in the industry (Oracle eBusiness suite not to mention it)
  • for the finance and supply management teams, a centralized consolidated database together with the adoption of the best processes in every finance organization of our company across the world
  • for the decision-makers, dashboards containing indisputable figures, access to the data via queries and a reporting environment
  • for the end-users, training courses on a homogeneous, ergonomic and functional user interface, with detailed processes on-line

a bad one

The second example is in fact a counter-example. Our objective was to implement an automated dispatching system of field interventions on electronic equipments to our support technicians. The message was clear (we thought): the solution, through routes optimization, will increase customer satisfaction and productivity.

The message retained by the feet-on-the ground workers was only the part related to increasing the productivity. This was quickly translated into increase of workload, risk of job cuts, and less autonomy for the interested party, the technicians, in the choice of which incidents to handle next. And, it is precisely these technicians who could make the project a success or a failure. Thus, we had a poor communication of the vision towards the technicians.

Furthermore, as errors rarely come alone, the people in charge of customer accounts who would easily have understood and could have explained the benefits to their customers were forgotten from the communications. After a very successful initial period of tests in real situation arose the inevitable first problems. The account managers supported and escalated the complaints of the technicians. This resulted in a pure and simple decision to kill the project.

The project manager needs to acquire or grow this capacity to learn how to best build and communicate a clear vision and, also, not forget anybody in the communication, in order to increase his leadership.

But what's your own experience?

Michel

photo credit: © basketman23 - Fotolia.com

Michel Operto

I've been leading IT projects for more than 20 years at telecom and computer manufacturers: Thomson Sintra, Digital Equipment, NCR, Nortel Networks, Orange Business Services. My passion is Project Management and leadership and I run a blog on the PM best practices at http://dantotsupm.com/