As the world watches President Donald Trump and his team try and control the media agenda I am struck that being oblivious to unethical or illegal behaviour happening within an organisation is not an acceptable excuse for allowing it to occur. Leaders will be held responsible – even when they claim to have no knowledge of the situation.
Recently Michael Flynn, the national security adviser to President Trump, resigned over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials.
Whilst there are undoubtedly many parties at play leaking the actual details of what transpired it is undoubtedly Michael Flynn’s responsibility to have kept all his communication to Vice President Mike Pence ACCURATE. This is far from a unique example and on this occasion a mistake that cost somebody their job.
The people governing your organisation are coming under increasing pressure to know what is going on at every level – and to take appropriate actions as necessary.
So what does this mean for the average person working on overcoming a challenge in a project management office (PMO) or on a project team? Because projects and programmes are becoming increasingly important to the development and growth of organisations, information about the performance of projects and programmes now plays a critical role in the governance of the organisation. This means you are responsible for ensuring the information delivered to executives and communicated within the team is ACCURATE.
But you cannot fulfil this obligation alone. It takes a team effort.
Ensuring the right information reaches the right levels of the organisation involves creating the right governance systems and structures and having the right tools to maintain information up-to-date. These systems operate best in a culture of openness and accountability — and require leadership from the highest levels of the organisation to operate well.
Project professionals can support these systems, but we cannot do a lot to create the necessary culture. We can, however, have a major influence on how information is created and disseminated in the governance system.
The key features of communication that we can control are interlinked and interdependent, and can summed up in the acronym ACCURATE:
Available: The project information has to be accessible in various appropriate formats to all levels of management in as close to real-time as possible.
Complete: The project information needs to provide a full and accurate picture of the current and forecasted situation.
Concise: Executives are busy people—excessive detail does not help. They need to understand the bottom line. Your project stakeholder communication plan needs to take account of the needs of the stakeholder and communicate accordingly.
Understandable: Project management is full of technical jargon so we need to ensure we communicate in business language.
Relevant: Just because it’s important to the project team doesn’t mean it’s important to the overall organization. Communicate information that is relevant to the achievement of business objectives.
Auditable: If asked, you need to be able to provide the source of the information and the processing steps taken to consolidate and communicate the information.
Timely: Markets and teams operate in a 24-hour news cycle. Important information needs to be communicated immediately (you cannot wait for the monthly report).
Explainable: Project professionals need to be available to explain the information and help executives understand the consequences
Project professionals have a responsibility to make sure the information they are communicating meets this standard and is also ACCURATE.
Do you think President Trump and his team could adopt some basic Project Management practices to improve White House ACCURATE communication in 2017?
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