When you forget or omit an important communications link and have a breakdown in communication, problems occur; and sometimes they are so big they take an entire project down; and everyone loses.
So how can you stop this from happening? Well, nothing can ever be completely avoided, but you can minimize the possibility of a major communications breakdown by generating a communications plan spreadsheet that lists all of the tasks and associated deliverables and who is responsible for them.
Your spreadsheet should also include who is to receive whatever product that task produces, whether that be an invoice generated by your accounting department, a status report for your upper management or a regulatory agency, a software tool to automate a piece of equipment in your company’s chemical plant, or a highway overpass for your customer.
In addition, your document should indicate who needs to approve the deliverable and how frequently along the way that person needs to be kept informed on its progress. Such a matrix of tasks, people, and frequencies of communication helps keep you focused and keeps you from forgetting who has to know what when and prevents you from tiring out your key people by spamming them unnecessarily.
Strategic communication will be your key to success!
How many times have you or your team been involved in a project, no matter what the size, and had someone come out of the blue or get some unexpected bad news at the last minute which puts your project, all your hard work, and careful planning in jeopardy?
Chances are you forgot to put a key person in the information loop. This person could be as big as the CEO of the company or as seemingly insignificant as the kid in the mail room.
Unwittingly leaving a key person in the dark is a classic and chronic problem faced by all managers and project teams. One way to overcome this problem is to leave nothing to chance and develop a communications plan……and put it in writing! But don't just do this in a vacuum because one person is never able to think of all the people that might need to be put in the loop.
A good communications plan is a team effort. Different people know different parts of a project or problem. It never fails that each person on the team will come up with different contacts that they know who have critical information that you will need. Sometimes these people can help you or can come out of left field and kill your efforts for one reason or another. It is important to keep these contacts in the communications loop and use their collective knowledge for your project's success.
Putting together the master list and prioritizing the people on it is the next step. We'll talk about that in our next blog post.
Let’s face it; sometimes the office stifles creativity. I’m talking about the feeling where you’ve sat in your leather chair for too long and it starts to feel hot and your eyes start hurting from looking at the screen and the office drone is giving you a headache.
The best thing to do is leave the office. At our office, we practice this technique by getting coffee in the afternoon. It’s a valuable time that we use to discuss creative or strategic projects. It gives us a breath of fresh air which in-turn gets our thoughts flowing. Sometimes we only have 15 minutes and other times it lasts an hour. But regardless, we make a point of leaving the office.
You should do this too. And if you don’t have the time for coffee, then leave the office during lunch. Don’t think about eating at your desk or skipping lunch… make a point of getting out and smelling the roses. If you’ve go 15 minutes, take your MP3 player and go for a walk around your building.
If you do this, you’ll work less, get more done, and feel physically (and mentally) healthier.
Roy H. Williams quoted Mike Metzger from the Clapham Institute as saying:
“You meet 4 kinds of people on the ocean of life:
Those who drift just go with the flow. The wind and the waves control their speed and direction. The drifter quietly floats along and says, ‘Whatever.’
Those who surf are always riding a wave, the next big thing. They stay excited until the wave fades away, then they scan the horizon for something new. Surfers don't usually get anywhere, but they make a lot of noise and put on a good show."
Those who drown seem to stay in the center of a storm. It doesn't matter how often you rescue them, they'll soon be in another crisis, crying, ‘Help me, save me, it's been the worst week of my life. I don't know what I'm going to do.’
Those who sail are navigating toward a fixed point. They counteract the wind and waves by adjusting the rudder and shifting the sails to stay on course. But without an immovable, fixed point in your life, there can be no sailing. There's nothing for you but drift, surf or drown.”
Are you drifting, surfing, drowning or sailing? What is your immovable object?