5 Truths about Communication inside a Project

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 [...]

  • Dealing with a Serial Killer
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    Dealing with a Serial Killer: the Develop Magazine #116 article

Dealing with a Serial Killer: the Develop Magazine #116 article

Here is the content of the article I have published in Develop Magazine, issue #116 that you can read and download on the following links:

Read online: http://issuu.com/develop/docs/dev116_web.

PDF Download: http://www.develop-online.net/digital-edition. Look for the issue #116 in May 2011 page 47.

The version in the Develop Magazine is obviously nicer to read with diagrams. The magazine is definitely worth reading as a whole!

“Dealing with a Serial Killer”

We all know that “requirements” quality is a major factor in developing a hit title. The subject has been covered at conferences for years and books have been written on how to model and improve them. But to my mind, the deeper and root cause of many trans-project bottlenecks is often intrinsic and completely missed – namely the subject of “ambiguity”.

The first challenge faced by games designers is to accurately convert your “world of ideas” into a “world of words”, i.e. into a games design document (GDD). This exercise is essential for scope, but will also create issues for the following reasons: (1) Some ideas are not conscious enough to be converted into words so about 30% are lost; (2) A further 20% of the ideas that can be converted are partly “damaged” on the way; and (3) When the written document is received by others for implementation, ambiguities remain that require interpretation and some of these interpretations will be wrong, resulting in 20% being badly implemented.

To formularise: For every 100 ideas or features desired only 44.8% (100×0.70×0.80×0.80) are implemented accurately in the natural world of software. Yes, less than half and a major cause of change requests.

Why? Because written language is treacherous! It was originally invented to calculate how many cows or slaves we bought and sold at [...]