the 3Rs golden communication rule - part 1/2

Nowadays, many IT projects have been subject to failure due to many reasons.

In fact, studies conducted by the Standish Group in 2009 showed that only 32% of projects are successful. One of the main reasons of failure is the lack of successful communication between the Project Manager and the customer. Some of the most successful Project Managers have sometimes struggled in achieving good communication. The communication process has always been a combination of hard and soft skills.

about the importance of communications

The ability to effectively communicate is probably one of the most important set of skills a PM needs. What would our life and world be like without communication?

We cannot get along without it. It is also not easy, and we probably all have had experiences where our communication failed or ran into a barrier. So, if we can understand the communication process better and improve it, we will become more effective and successful project managers.

the art of communicating correctly

I would define successful communication as the art of delivering the Right message at the Right time in the Right conditions, a rule that I have called the 3Rs rule of communication.

Before defining the 3Rs rule, it is important first to present the communication basic model. According to PMBoK, in the communication basic model, sending a message consists of four main components:

  • the sender, e.g. the project manager
  • the receiver, e.g. the client
  • the message/ the feedback
  • the medium or media

basics communications

communication – basic model (PMBoK third edition)

3Rs communication rule: the right message

One of the most important causes of poor communication is the inability to deliver the right message. Albert Einstein once said: a message that is not well conceived can never be delivered.

Suppose you are experiencing an issue in your project which needs to be communicated to the customer, what would be the best way to communicate it to the customer? How would you deliver the exact message to make sure he has understood the issue and its impact?

Before communicating a message, the content should be well understood and put into words.

The three steps for delivering the right message are:

understanding the issue

This could be done by:

  • organizing meetings with the stakeholders that are impacted by the issue
  • organizing brainstorming sessions with the team to discuss the possible reasons for the issue and producing ideas to solve the problem
  • conduct an Ishikawa diagram meeting to discuss sources of the problem which could then be presented in a visual way to the customer. Some people understand more the visuals than verbal communication

filtering the causes

There are many ideas filtering techniques. However, the most important thing to take in mind while being in the process is to filter by choosing causes that have highest impact.

defining keywords to the issue that will be communicated

That could happen by the following steps:

  • organizing filtered ideas into the right phrases and words
  • make sure they are well understood, straight forward and wouldn’t be interpreted in any other way than the way you want to present it

In the next article, I’ll present the two other rules of communication: the right timing and right conditions to discuss the problem.


photo credit: © vgstudio & © rubysoho -

Ahmed Sabry
Ahmed Sabry

I have more than 6 years of professional experience in the Software Development (, Oracle, Toad, CMS projects..etc.) and Telecommunications industry, 3 of which are in the project management division of the global telecom provider, Orange Business and in the brokerage company NAEEM Holding. I hold an MBA in management.

Alongside my professional experience in the IT industry, I have a passion for creating new processes and developing better practices. I am the owner of Gilimag online magazine for youth in the Middle East with a fan base of more than 2000 fans.