Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The results of poor communication are planning failures.

Poor communication is often a major cause of project difficulties or failure.

We are meant to plan our communications to facilitate the effective deployment of the stakeholders in many cases these might constitute subject or content matter experts and additionally perhaps planning specialists. Under ideal circumstances each provides competent, motivated and improvement-oriented feedback to the communications chain. In the right configurations of dissimilar expertise a group of project oriented experts can assemble a noteworthy endeavour of leadership and change management building value out of bridging value differences and approaches.

I am reminded of up-stream and down-stream external and internal customer interconnectivity and delivery cycles as Gillian recalled cycle time results in an orientation our outbound and inbound messages must provide reasonable and relevant information to avoid the pitfalls listed in our notes. The concept of cellular manufacturing, cross-functional management team training and innovation or quality circles all appear to share some elements of the benefits of effective communication planning in that the goals exceed and refine the skills of participants to balance time/information schedule and hopefully gain communicative experience and expertise.

So in any practice there could be and probably is nothing worse than poor communications time planning. Some businesses appear to fault middle managers as the time and information "sinks" of companies due to conflicting interests between labour and upper management help perpetuate saboteurs of group communications. Even the ever-present and nearly ubiquitous technologies we share at the tips of our tongues and fingernails seems to suggest as a global populace many may be sacrificing planning for perpetual "on-callism" or at the other extreme (as our course somewhat displays) the integral practice of learning or knowledge "swarming" through asynchronous message postings indicating a willingness to sacrifice for real-time interactions in negation of distance and (other) time constraints in even just learning about planning.

However I am bound to recall the Swiss Air 111 crash which foundered near my hometown in Canada and in the inquiry revealed quite the opposite conclusion perhaps to which our course planning for communciations section might seek in reference to prescriptiveness and its practicality to forestalling difficulties or project failure.

Human decision-making can often provide ample root causes for failure even with a seemingly "fool-proof" plan. The inability to functionalize the plan in terms of its application and scope will be found in the flaws of human nature inescapable. In the case of Flight 911 the emphasis of "going by the book" and taking the time to pass over the runway and make an emergency fuel dump at sea as regulations stipulated exceeded the functional electrical capacity of the airplane striken by a fire.

As a result all lives were lost.

A provision of checklists to be followed rather than an impulse concern over the absolute deliverables of getting passengers safely on the ground or a more direct approach which fell outside the WBS checklists was overlooked. Would this be an example of managing by directive?

How will planning communication help?

Composing teams as stakeholders might also be considered collaborative and may often require substantial or little overlap in tasks and information dependent upon the complexity of the WBS. As to consider some of the stages of my thesis proposal there would be little sense in communicating the same information to all stakeholders as their requisite needs do not always coincide and the stages of the project phases themselves may prove not only sequential but also susceptible to sudden required adjustments of the WBS to meet consistently variable human conflicts in time and communication challenges. Time-based communication challenges should provide new, novel, cumulative peripheral learning opportunities.

Fo example, thesis acceptance by department and advisors might simply require their rubber stamping for possible funding approvals. At the other extreme the advisor carries great progressive approval responsibility throughout the entire WBS.

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