Project Management

The Key to Communicating with 'Non-Project' People

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One of my former clients used to tell me all of the time, “I’m a very visual person; give me things in less than two pages and in a way that I can easily understand.” When I first heard that, I rolled my eyes and thought that I would have to distill information down to the point where it was adding very little value simply to keep things under two pages. I also figured that I would be creating lots of graphics for no apparent reason other than to please the client’s desire for “pictures”.

Well, I was wrong. What I learned from that client--and what I have tried to apply consistently since--is that things don’t have to be complicated, and that sometimes a simpler way of presenting things can help people to focus on the message rather than on how the message is communicated. This month’s theme is about visual project management, so I’ll focus on that rather than the “distill it down to two pages” part. But the two are inexorably linked; a more visual presentation will necessarily result in a focus on the key messages--quality over quantity.

Breaking down communications barriers
Many years ago in one of the first articles that I wrote for what was then gantthead and is now, I pointed out the tendency for project managers to communicate using jargon--lead and lag, finish-to-start, …

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