The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the author.
Published here July 2014

Introduction | Book Structure
What We Liked | Downside | Summary


It is difficult to find fault with the book as written. However, there are a few aspects where one might wish for more insights. Given that for most projects, i.e. those that are in the smaller range, are called to meet tight budgets, expansion of project responsibilities seems unlikely. That is not to suggest that communication is unneeded, on the contrary, effective communication is essential, but only internally within the project.

In the broader view of the communication discipline, the issue is where should this responsibility reside. Other than the internal communication needed to run the project itself, it seems to us that responsibility at this increased scope of the discipline should all be held at a higher level. This includes such activities as e-bulletins, podcasts, newsletters, company notice board announcements, focus groups and 'Town Halls', all of which are mentioned in the book.

Such activities are time consuming, and could easily divert the project manager's attention from "getting the job done". Our suggestion is that these activities should be the responsibility of a program management office (PMO), if there is one. If not, it should be the responsibility of the project's sponsor to arrange under the umbrella of the corporate organization, rather than under the project umbrella. After all, if the project is that important, it should be supported at the highest level.

On large projects where the outcome has an impact on the public-at-large, and politics are inevitably involved, a major communications effort is essential to the success of the project. In such cases, the "project communicator" role is typically vested in a public relations office. Such an office could be an arm of the overall program organization, or conducted under a standing unit of the corporate organization such as a project portfolio management office. It would be interesting to have the author's views on these options and rationale for one or the other.

It must be remembered that information is power and those who hold it can use it to exercise significant influence. Influence is a valuable asset in managing a project. Often, on a project, people have to be persuaded to act at short notice. So the transfer of information handling from the project manager to some "outsider" not only undermines the position of the project manager, but the perpetrator can be seen as an interfering busybody. The author does touch briefly on the potential conflict between the project manager and the designated communicator,[17] but we would like to have seen an expansion of this topic.

And lastly, Ann's suggestions for encouraging the difficult skill of active listening would be welcome.

What We Liked  What We Liked

17. See the Vignette quoted in the previous section
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page