Communication in global projects: don't wait for the misunderstandings

Created on 08 July 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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Image © Carole Nickerson | Dreamstime.comCommunication is key on every project. On global projects, the challenge is even higher, as there are many elements that dificult understanding. The team members might have difference levels of fluency on the common language. Different time zones reduce the window for synchronous communication (meetings, telephone calls and chats). Team members from different companies might use various software tools, not all allowing a smooth exchange of information.


Culture is often an unexpected barrier. The main mistake is to assume that everyone communicate with the same style: some team members will enjoy a humorous style, understand jokes and use slang. Others may be uncomfortable with this approach, and perhaps intimidated by jokes that may have a different connotation in their own cultures.


Once I was participating on a training session, given by a foreign instructor, who was often using anecdotes about his personal life, to make analogies and explain complex topics. I was delighted by the relaxed atmosphere and appreciated the teaching style. When discussing with other attendees after the training, I realized that they were unhappy with the informal manners of the teacher, and considered that he should not try to oversimplify or desmistify the knowledge domain.


The project can benefit from an early identification of this type of issues. The development of a good communication strategy during the project kick-off can reduce misunderstandings between stakeholders from different country and company cultures communicating over distance. The main interested parties must work together to define this strategy, creating the project communications management plan.



Chapter 8 of the Global Project Management book suggests three main steps to prepare a global communication strategy, by:



·        identifying the types of information to be communicated;



·        gathering the communication requirements from key stakeholders;



·        determining how the communication will effectively happen.


Image © Carole Nickerson | 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 23:20