Spark a Conversation
The word “communication” comes from the Latin word “communis” which mean to impart or to share and the suffix “ion” means to act or process, thus the word mean the action of sharing.
How do we share?
There are multiple medium, multiple tools, different ways you can communicate with your team or clients: email, phone, text, Twitter, Yammer, Skype, video conference, etc.
As project managers which medium should we use to effectively communicate?
The short answer is that it depends on the person with whom we want to share. One size doesn’t fit all. Some people respond to phone calls, others to emails. Some respond to instant message and some prefer talking one on one. What matters is finding the medium that works best for that person and sticking to it.
Communication is a two-way process but the most important part of the communication is what the listener/receiver takes away. Pick the medium that most effectively get yours your message across to that particular audience. Here’s to good projects,
– The Vertabase Team
Leadership in a Collaborative Process
For example, a question like “How do I set up a Work Breakdown Structure for a Software Project?” might be closed as being too basic. The question might be further distilled to “Does anyone have good examples of a work breakdown structure for software projects?” Which, would probably get closed as being to general and easily Googled.
The idea behind closing a question is to respect Community member’s time, maintain Community cohesion and define/maintain our identity. This is a continually evolving process with discussions taking place on an ongoing basis on the community’s meta site.
There could be an emotional component, that is being expressed as a basic question. The person may be nervous and uncertainty about a new position, and is looking for assurance and guidance. The emotional component to that question might be more like “as a new project manager in the software industry can I use the same project management skills I used before” or “as a software project manager who is trying to adopt better project management practices, what is the best way to do a work breakdown structure?.”
If the question does have a larger emotional component it could be distilled to “I’m nervous about starting out in a new industry, any pointers on working in the software industry?” Which, while not a good fit for the project management site, clarifies the question and points the way to where an answer can be found. That type of question is a better fit for a different community. It would be migrated there and the questioner could find answers there.
But, if the question is distilled to a specific challenge of building a work breakdown structure (WBS) for the software industry, such as “Two developers are giving me different answers on how a work package should be defined for my WBS, how do I decide?” it would be a great fit for the site. The Community would jump at answering that kind of question and the questioner would get great value.
Editing, is an opportunity to listen and lead.
One of the challenges, of course, is figuring out what the true intention is of the questioner. Editors can guess but can’t know for sure without the questioner’s input. This gets tricky on the site when a first time questioner doesn’t respond to comments requesting more information or greater clarification.
The Community is willing and able to help. The site is lucky that it has built up a critical mass of Community members who will engage questioners to help focus the question. There is a process of question and answering that takes place in the comments section. But it takes engagement and commitment on the part of the questioner to remain part of the process.
It is the job of the moderator, to quickly deal with questions that could drain the Community, which could lead to disengagement by Community members, while still providing a safe and welcoming place for committed questioners to participate. Guidelines and FAQ’s help, however nothing seems to replace an active and engaged core of editors and moderators.
There’s one other observation I’d like to add before concluding the post. When creating a collaborative environment, it will take on its own flavor. The tone may be different from that which you originally set-out to create. As a moderator, remain focused on how well the process is working rather than the tone or the particular flavor. The tone may not be exactly what you had in mind, but if it is working, that’s what counts.