What your lack of communication does to you

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This short video from Scatterwork is about what your lack of communication does to you. Imagine a situation to call a  meeting. Somebody requests the meeting and the assistant will send out a request “is it OK on Tuesday?” and the team will say “That’s fine” and then the invitation is sent. This is maybe where a problem might arise. The invitation may not be seen by the boss for some days because he or she is busy doing something else;is away; is traveling; whatever. So there is a lack of communication at that stage. Also there was already a lack because Tuesday wasn’t specific enough and it could be that somebody is available at particular time of the day but not another, so eventually the boss answers “Sorry that time doesn’t work” so the assistant has to repeat the work by telephone. He or she has to
ring around and wait until each person is free.

Eventually everybody says “OK” then they schedule the meeting.It depends and could be several days before they actually meet; then they hold meeting.So what do we learn? One of the things we notice is that poor process includes many opportunities for poor communication or even total lack and if we think about, it whenever we delay on a communication we are actually delaying the whole issue or the whole object of what we are trying to do. Another downside is that the best time option is not systematically selected.Then everyone gets involved a couple of times and in the end they might even take more time to organize the meeting then to hold the meeting.Some general conclusions: for one off actions of course we just do the work.But all tasks in business are a combination of some activity and communicating about it.

We should be aware of the delay impact that the lack of communication or lack of good or accurate communication causes.We need to think through; come to a meeting with the right materials, with the right information so that we don’t go away saying “I could have known beforehand, but I did not”.Because you cannot make up lost delay. So if you’re interested in any of these topics or any other project issues, please contact me. You have the contact details there on the screen. I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Scatterwork guest: How do we Talk about Strategy?

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Should we change the way we talk about strategy?

Most people don’t understand strategy. It may sound obvious but the reason why many strategies are never realized is that most people in large organizations don’t understand what the strategy means, even if they know of its existence.

Senior managers assume that their employees understand them when they talk about strategy. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and indeed strategies are often articulated in a way that makes them impossible to deliver.

My name’s Jonathan Norman. I published nearly 120 books on projects and programs for Gower Publishing and I wanted to talk to you about the subject of strategy.

Have a look at some of your current strategies. If they aren’t as effective as they could be, it may well be because they’re written in a language which is far too vague and fails to understand the role of the users in the equation.

Or perhaps on the other hand they are hugely detailed and run into pages of documents so that even the most enthusiastic employees
struggle to see the wood for the trees.

I have used the ideas in Phil Driver’s Validating Strategies to highlight some of the most common problems associated with the way we talk about strategy.

Exploratory Verbs:

Words such as explore, investigate and address are exploratory words. They are useful in early-stage high-level aspirational strategies when the main work essentially involves framing and sense-making the opportunity that the strategy will endeavor to see.

But as strategies move from the aspirational to the more operational, they are of much less value and can signal a delaying tactic to avoid taking concrete action. And using further reviews or investigations to give an impression of useful activity.

Improvement Verbs

Because they point to the need for change but their main shortcoming is that they provide no indication of how that change will be implemented. Think of words like enhance, improve, increase and consolidate. These are all words in this category and all require more specific action-oriented verbs as well as measurable targets before
they can be used at an operational level.

Certainty Verbs

Certainty verbs appear to convey confidence that the strategy will have the desired effect but they are generally illusory. One of the most popular of these verbs is “ensure”. However comforting the word, there is no such project action as “ensure”. Organizations may take actions which have a high likelihood of producing the desired result but they cannot ensure that the community will use the outcome nor can they ensure the benefit.

Collaboration Project Verbs: Collaborate, cooperate, engage have become popular as words in recent years, particularly in the public sector where there’s been a belief that
collaboration, cooperation and engaging are universally good things. This means that they often appear in strategy documents with little indication why they will add value to a strategy or how they will be applied in its implementation or development.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the repeated theme in all of this language involves
exaggerated claims for certainty, outcomes and benefits of projects that will deliver the strategy. It’s only human nature to express confidence and show a tolerance for risk and uncertainty. None of this language is wrong or bad in itself. The danger lies in the meaning that’s intended.

Now this communicates a strategy to stakeholders and strategies that
misuse this language create an environment for projects that are challenge before they’ve even started.

Thank you for listening.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.

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Do visas & permits hinder team meetings?

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This video from Scatterwork is about the effects of visas and travel permits on team meetings. For example, project kick-off meetings.

In an international team we almost certainly have holders of different passports and this can affect both their access rights and how long it takes to get them for the location of the meeting. This can be further complicated if they also require transit through other countries on the way.

Then different countries have different ways of applying for visas:

Sometimes we just arrive and show our passport, other times we have to apply in advance. Sometimes it takes several days or even a couple of weeks, other times you can pay extra and make it go fast.
Sometimes you have to physically hand in your passport and then while that’s in progress, then you can’t travel and do other things.

So it gets really complicated. The alternative is to hold a properly structured virtual meeting and that is something that we at Scatterwork.com can help you with so we look forward to hearing from you if that’s interest to you, thank you.

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Scope Management

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Hello, Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with an anecdote from the book Overview of the PMBOK Guide and this time, it’s to do with brainstorming and scope management. Scope says what is in a project, what work do we need to do? If that’s not very visible, then we can get pushed off track or the scope can change without anyone really noticing and then of course, it’s harder to deliver and then people are disappointed and so on, so management of scope is rather important and in particular, acceptance of the scope.

The anecdote here is that I was consulting on an international project where a new work package was being started. This could have been documented privately and then passed to the project manager for feedback. The disadvantage would have been too little acceptance. When we had the solution, the core project team was at the end of a planning meeting and ten minutes were left before some of the participants had to take taxis to the airport.

Using Post-it notes, forty or fifty ideas of what needed to be done were collected in less than five minutes and after they went away, they were documented. Because the team had participated in the brainstorming, the result was accepted by the core team without question. I think if we had put the same list together and emailed it out, it wouldn’t even have been read. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

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Project stress management ideas

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Stressed Businessman
image: freedgitalphotos.net

Project management is always hectic so careful Stress Management can really help.  Projects require great attention to detail, regardless of how much is happening. This means that project management can be very stressful.  This can be made worse but lack of attention to detail, as even more pressure occurs when unforeseen issues need to be sorted out.

The following ideas combine the outputs of several training workshops with project managers to help Stress Management, so may give you some useful suggestions.  They may be culture-dependent, but still worth consideration in your environment.  Good luck!

 

COMMUNICATIONS for Stress Management

  • Communicate any progress to stakeholders ASAP (as soon as possible).
  • Use clear communication to align all stakeholders (this is not just “management” but everybody affected by a project).
  • Use informal meetings to clarify issues, then follow up with written confirmation.
  • Book meetings in the calendar, e.g. with Outlook, so that everybody has the same information.  Or use Doodle to poll for meeting times, including time zone corrections.
  • Definition: Expectation vs. Scope.
  • Agree a team rule to communicate delays ASAP, not just hoping that the problem will go away.
  • Restructure or reorganise a project, if the deadline is not going to be met.
  • Manage or even change expectations.
  • Support a culture of open communications.

PLANNING for Stress Management

  • Discuss your ideas, then put them on paper for communication.
  • When given a new assignment, don’t just say “yes” and start but ask questions to clarify what is requested.
  • Take the necessary time to develop your action plan.
  • Delegate but be prepared to take control when necessary.
  • Develop a solid plan and anticipate issues.
  • Be realistic with timing estimates.
  • Assess risks and implement actions for the more important ones.
  • Make and document your assumptions, then check them with the stakeholders.  This allows progress, even before getting final clarification of details.
  • Prioritise actions on the critical path.
  • Develop Team skills and team spirit.
  • Set expectations and priorities.
  • Develop a well defined scope and challenge unrealistic expectations => Well defined project plans with realistic deadlines & resource allocation  = Achievable.
  • Make decisions (avoid time waste).
  • Have Contingency Plans to deal with unexpected situations.

PERSONAL SKILLS for Stress Management

  • Don’t get panicked.
  • Stay organized.
  • Trust your team and colleagues.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Clearly identify reasons or sources of stress.
  • Take a break or a day off.
  • Engage in Sport.
  • Turn off email and other notifications.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

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