Project Management

Real-Time Communication: Overview

Doug is the author of the landmark book, Extreme Project Management®: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility. He works with clients who undertake projects in very demanding environments: those settings that feature high speed, high change, high unpredictability and high stress. Doug has lived in the trenches—from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Beijing, China—with over 275 project teams with budgets that ranged from $25,000 to over $25 million. He is one of the founders of the Agile Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to connecting, developing and supporting great project leaders. He is known for his hard-hitting and humorous keynote speeches that address vital issues facing today’s project-based organizations. You can visit Doug at

Extreme teams need to get up, running and communicating fast. This includes all stakeholders, internal and external, co-located or geographically dispersed. Timely access to all information enables stakeholder to self-organize and re-organize as new information surfaces. In a sense, no one person is in control. Instead, everybody is in control. Real-time communications is the catalyst.

Without a viable communications system in place, the extreme project manager is all but agile, having to take on the role of the project’s administrative assistant, shackled to a computer screen where eye contact is replaced by Icon-tact. In the absence of a viable real-time communication system, the flow of thoughts, imitations and interactions bogs down, starving the project’s energy field of vital information, the lifeblood.

In this article, I address:
  1. The basic communications needs of stakeholders
  2. The hallmarks of a viable, real-time communication system
  3. Specific features to look for
  4. Technology considerations in planning virtual meetings
The Basic Communication Needs of Stakeholders
A good communications infrastructure creates an environment that allows both information sharing and collaboration. Table 1 summarizes the fundamental communications needs of various stakeholder groups.

Table 1: Information and Collaboration Needs of Various Stakeholders
The table…

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