When a tricky project communication goes awry -- the review meeting goes south, a stakeholder reacts badly to bad news, well-intended feedback triggers a shouting match -- it's often because we didn't plan it well. Yes, sometimes things catch us flat-footed. But more often than not we know there's a potential landmine ahead and yet we lurch forward, blindfolded, hoping that good intentions will protect us. |
They might, but good preparation will protect us better. So we've assembled a collection of tools and guidance to help you plan for tricky communication in your projects.
And if all else fails, columnist Geof Lory reminds us that there's no harm in asking for a do over.
The Do Over
by Geof Lory
Growing up I played a lot of sports, both official and unofficial. I remember spending hours with my older brother in the front yard playing catch. We'd make up big league games, pretending we were throwing someone out at home, turning a double play, or catching a fly ball at the fence. It was great fun. What was really cool about the exercise though, was the acknowledged viability of the "do over." If you felt that something about the scenario was unfair or didn't work out as planned, either due to your performance or an external influence, you could call a "do over" and make a case for why you should be allowed to try again (obviously, hoping for a better outcome).
We didn't realize it at the time, but we were exercising a rapid learning cycle. Practicing the same plays over and over again, improving each time until it became second nature. Honing our skills in preparation for the official game where do overs were not allowed. In sports and in life, you rarely get a do over, especially one without a penalty. Rarely, but not never.
If you feel that tricky interaction slipping away from you, maybe it's time to call a do over.
Ten Tools for Planning Tricky Project Communication
From initial reviews to issue management, from sponsor negotiation to final signoff, 10 project tools (+1) you can use to take control of potentially difficult project communication, so you don't have to use that do over.
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