5 Truths about Communication inside a Project

Introduction
We are living in a world of communication. New fortunes have been made on the back of communication: Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. to name but a few. It has never been easier to communicate! …Really? Well, it has never looked easier to communicate. But is it really as easy as it looks?

Easy communication is a kind of mirage, a dream we all would like to be true. If the means are indeed easy to use, it does not mean that communicating properly is easier. It is even probably the opposite: because it looks easy we do not think about it and we communicate badly. And bad communication is the source of many costly mistakes inside a project. This is why we are going in this article to review a handful of truths about communication.
Communication within an International Project
The context in which I thought this article is mostly within a Software Project. It remains true in most projects though. I have experienced these “Truths” and their positive or negative effects first hand. I also have experienced them within International contexts, such as an offshore software project. Keeping them in mind has saved the day often enough to be mentioned. If today, with Liemur, my company, we are offering near-shore software development, it is because we master these principles (plus many others that are not in the scope of this paper, of course). Far too often, projects are put in danger because of poor communication. People are always trying their best. It is rarely the intention that went wrong but the perception of the action.
1: Written communication is weak
Truth #1: To communicate efficiently, one must combine written communication with [...]

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    Human dynamics: 3 IT Project Common Human Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Human dynamics: 3 IT Project Common Human Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

 

We often talk about common problems occurring on a Software project such as not having the business executives on board, recruiting the wrong Project Manager, having too many projects running at once, etc. These problems are true and valid. But what I want to talk about today is a small list of more Human oriented problems; the kind of problems that are happening without anyone really noticing, and for that very reason, very dangerous ones. For simplicity matter, I will stick to only three Software Project Management Mistakes in this article.
Making too many assumptions

Human beings are communicating with unique and extraordinarily rich medium: natural language. We use it every day in every circumstance to sort out any problem. But using words to communicate ideas and concepts is also very time consuming. As a result of that, because we are efficient, we make many assumptions about what the people we communicate with already know. For instance, if I say to a friend that I was driving 50km/h on the motorway or 180km/h, I do not have to explain that it is very slow or very high speed. With the slow speed, this person will immediately imagine that I must have had a good reason for doing so: traffic jam, fog, heavy rain, car problems, etc. I can assume that the person I am talking to knows that there is a speed limit on the motorway and that the speed limit is say 130km/h. I can also assume that this person knows how drivers would usually drive in the country I am, if speeding is common practice or very rare. I could even make assumptions about the knowledge the person I am talking to, has [...]

Off-shore development: why can’t “they” get it?

What is culture and what does it mean to be a foreigner? Don’t worry; I will not give a detailed answer to these two questions; that would need 100s of pages to do so. These 2 questions, I had to ask them to myself when I married a foreigner and when I moved to live in London-UK. In fact, it is crucial to be able to answer, at least in part, to these questions to live happily with different cultures.

In short, and I’ll come back to that, living in harmony with a different culture than yours is difficult and there are so many good reasons for that that you should not feel bad about it. At the same time, we have seen in the recent years enthusiasm for off-shore outsourcing. Depending on what country you are based in, the elected off-shore country is always one which is more or less speaking your language. I’ll take two examples: United Kingdom will outsource in India due to their English heritage. France will outsource in North Africa for the same reason. Of course, other parts of the world are heavily used, like Russia, Eastern Europe, China, etc. But anyway, for at least UK and France, I can say that common language is seen as the way to work together.

Now what happens? Every day, we hear more and more about disappointed companies regarding the success of their off-shore outsourcing. And most of the time, the complains are the same and turn about inability to understand each other, deliveries that have not much to do with expectations and in the end, some managers recognise they would be far happier if they could stop dealing with “this lot over there”. [...]