The head of a Project Management Office found this email in his Inbox one lovely morning:
thanks for putting together a great project team.
I have though a feeling there is an alien on the team. “Milestones”, “benchmarks”, “critical path”are only a few of the sounds coming out of his mouth that I was able to record. And there was something about something broken.
Please either send it with an interpreter or just give it an user-friendly upgrade.
Sounds familiar? The “alien” was the new project manager, with his shining top-of-class graduation certificate, ready to impress. I easily recognise the junior-me in this “alien”. Believing i can impress with an ammunition of fancy terminology. It did not get me credibility. It only increased the gap between me and team members, partners and beneficiaries. The results were misunderstandings, miscommunication and other easily preventable issues.
It took me some years of practice to speak the audience language, for projects sake. And my job’s sake. Written project documents are still loyal to the fancy project management glossary.
It will make you feel as going back to ABCs. And rightly so. Your audience will appreciate it. Couple of examples:
I speak of
– Intended effects to explain “the project objective”.
– What the project intends to produce to explain “outputs”.
– The project To Do List to bring the “work breakdown structure” in the discussion (that broken something, Nick mentions in his email).
– The logical flow in a project’s life for communication and accountability when bringing in the “logframe”.
– Process documentation when bringing “logs” (communication log, risk log) into communication.
To explain my role, I say “I am the person who brings resources together to achieve the intended benefit within the timeframe of the project”. I thus became a less of an alien around the table. Although, sometimes it is fun to be an alien.