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Avoiding “Projectspeak”: a key ingredient of project success

The three sets of skills required for successful project management

The three sets of skills required for successful project management

Just before Christmas, Andy Griffee who was Programme Director for the BBC’s award-winning W1 Programme, wrote a light-hearted blog post for the Association of Project Managers. In it, he recounts his journey from journalist to Programme Director from the perspective of project language.

He starts by saying “Before 2008 I would have described ‘an operating model’ as Kate Moss. I believed that ‘users’ took drugs, ‘stakeholders’ were the mob of villagers in Dracula films and the only ‘benefits’ I had come across were something of an obsession for Iain Duncan Smith.

He talks about learning “Projectspeak” and the stark discovery that most of the Programme’s “stakeholders” only spoke English.  The lesson is the importance of using the right language for the right audience.  Real people don’t need to be bamboozled with “Deliverables”, “Dependencies”, Target Operating Models”, “Benefits Maps” or many of the other project things that professional Project Managers discuss.

I’ve written many times about the importance of Project Management skills in today’s world of work ; for example in my “Everyone needs to be a Project Manager” slidedoc.  Yes, if you’re going to run a project you need an understanding of the basic principles, but you also have to recognise the maturity of project-thinking of the people you’re communicating with.  Exactly as Andy says in his blog post, the message must be tailored to the audience.

Of course, the real worry (and problem) is when the so-called Project Professionals don’t even get the basics right:

Most Benefits Aren’t

Do you know your objectives from your deliverables?

Read more of my Project Management articles here.

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