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July 27, 2017 In this edition:
Bullet lists will only get you so far. How do you communicate project truth if people aren't inclined to read a lengthy report or specification?

This week, inspired by Kimberly Wiefling's passionate advocacy for visual communication, we're featuring a collection of templates, techniques, and ideas for communicating without relying on eloquent paragraphs that may never get read.
» Visual Communication for Complex Projects
» Beyond the Binder
» Corporate Subscriptions

Visual Communication for Complex Projects
Mission Control for Planet Earth
Kimberly Wiefling

Kimberly Wiefling An executive I worked for long ago once remarked that I tended to expand the scope of my projects to the point of obviously diminishing returns. Yeah, I must admit that I've secretly had my heart set on transforming all of Planet Earth for the better ever since 1995. Then about two years ago I got bit by the Buckminster Fuller bug, seeking to answer Bucky's provocative challenge: "Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

As a lifelong student and practitioner of project leadership, what intrigues me about this provocative vision is the part about spontaneous cooperation. Project managers are often in positions of influence without positional power or control over people critical to their project's success. We succeed by inspiring cooperation in our team to work toward a shared vision motivated by mutual self-interest.

This leads me to the other critical aspect of Fuller's philosophy: his emphasis on the importance of visualizing -- using visual tools to explore possibilities and scenarios so groups of people can make smarter, fact-based decisions quicker.

If you want to make a point, use words. If you want to drive a point home, use visualization »

Beyond the Binder
These eight templates illustrate a wide array of creative techniques for documenting and communicating project information. Don't limit yourself to bullet points and memos. Find a way to go beyond words to communicate what your team needs to know.

Agile Technique Guideline: Information Radiators – PREMIUM
Information Radiators, also known as Big Visible Charts, are useful quite simply because they provide an effective way to communicate project status, issues, or metrics without a great deal of effort from the team. The premise is that these displays make critical, changing information about a project accessible to anyone with enough ambition to walk over to the team area and take a look. No memos required.

Tracking with Visible Deliverables – PREMIUM
This template provides formats and example project data illustrating effective ways to track project progress -- by explicitly tracking drafts, reviews, and completion of multiple very small deliverables. Simple spreadsheet charts make it hard to cloak project issues behind claims that "we're 50% done."

A User's Guide to Working with Me – MEMBER
Charts aren't just for project progress. This quick chart helps team members communicate their most effective modes of work, including hot buttons, trust-builders, the best ways to raise and resolve conflicts, and more.

Technique Brief - Context Diagrams – PREMIUM
Specifications can benefit from visual communication too. Context diagrams are a time-tested method for using simple symbols to illustrate a system's boundaries, benefits, interactions, and data flows. Simple sketches can aid discussions of project features and scope, and detailed graphical interface specifications can improve communication and understanding with non-technical stakeholders.

Conducting a Basic Pareto Analysis – MEMBER
Need a quick way to focus your team on improvements that will have the most impact? This guideline will help you create a rudimentary Pareto analysis chart in Microsoft Excel.

Project Process Philosophy Chart – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until August 10, 2017
Explaining why a project process exists and why it matters can be challenging, especially in process-averse organizations. This one-page chart can help you convey why the process is important, how it helps, and how specific deliverables support these goals during each project phase.

Project and Pipeline Status Report - 3 page format – PREMIUM
This status report format is comprehensive, but still concise and easily-scanned. It includes project summary status, detailed status, and an overall pipeline status dashboard.

Project or Software Release One-Page Summary – PREMIUM
We're cheating a bit, because this one-page format for communicating key information about a software release (or any other kind of project) does use bullet points. But using one page for each project you're assigned to allows you to easily capture and convey your accomplishments and your workload. Bonus points for hanging one of these on your cubicle wall for each project you're working on -- a bold visual demonstration of just what you mean by "booked solid."
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.

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