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The Art of Communication

SERIES ARTICLE

Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK
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Introduction to the November PMWJ Article by Dr Lynda Bourne

The art of communication

The recently released Sixth edition of the APM Body of Knowledge consists of four major sections: context, people, delivery and interfaces. While the management of typical project management ‘things’ such as scope, schedule, cost, resource, risk, integration and quality comes in the section focused on delivery, it is telling that the area concerned with people and interpersonal skills appears earlier in the table of contents.

Indeed, if we think about the typical shortfalls in terms of skills that impact many projects, and often lead to failure, the list may include diverse areas such as expectation management, trust, user acceptance, relationship management, stakeholder management, influencing, negotiation, conflict resolution, delegation, and escalation. The common theme is the need to deal with people, and their needs, expectations, wants, expectations, preferences and ultimately their values.

Not surprisingly the first area featured in the APM BOK under the people area is that of communication. Communication is defined by the APM BOK as the means by which information or instructions are exchanged, which thereby provides the underpinning skill to address the shortfalls and overcome the barriers between groups and individuals in the project environment.

Whilst acknowledging that communication is fundamental to the project management environment, as poor communication will lead to misunderstood requirements, unclear goals, alienation of stakeholders, ineffective plans and many other factors leading to failure, the BOK proceeds to make a very powerful statement:

“None of the tools and techniques described in this body of knowledge will work without effective communication.”

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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ by Gower author Dr Lynda Bourne on the subject of “Communicating Upwards with Effect.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.

About the Author

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at [email protected].