I’ve seen a lot of different estimates of the amount of time a project manager spends on communication, but I’ve never seen an estimate below 70%. So if we’re going to be interacting with others for most of our working day, we might benefit from a rubric for selecting our means of communication for maximum efficiency.
A rubric is used to assess a performance task, but it can also be used to determine the best approach for performing the task. The table below describes a rubric for assessing planned communications. Each element is associated with criteria, which correspond to numeric values. Communication tasks with lower totals benefits from use of one-to-one communications, whereas somewhat higher totals benefit from one-to-many communications, such as Tweets or Email. The highest totals benefit from many-to-many interactions, such as conference calls or in-person meetings.
|Number in the Audience||Many||A few||One|
|Proximity of the audience||Distant||In between||Close|
|Physical distribution||Widely distributed||In between||Co-located|
|Need for audience interaction||High||Moderate||Low|
|Familiar with subject matter||Yes||Somewhat||No|
|Potential for emotional reaction||Low||Moderate||High|
|Complexity of subject matter||High||Moderate||Low|
|Need for immediate response||Low||Moderate||High|
The goal of communication planning should be not to reduce the amount of time spent communicating, but to making planned communications as efficient as possible. Analysis by rubric can be very useful in preparing our project communication plans. To paraphrase Master Kan: Speak face to face, rather than by telephone. Telephone, rather than Instant Message. IM, rather than Tweet. Tweet, rather than Email. Email, rather than schedule a conference call. Conference, rather than schedule a meeting. For everyone’s time is precious, and their attention and participation should not be wasted.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on the rubric elements and criteria – I’m pretty sure my first pass can be improved. Leave a comment below and let’s collaborate on it!