Business Change or Project Management? – Language matters
One of the challenges in delivering projects successfully is often how it is marketed within the organization. Communication of the project’s aim and objectives is integral to how the project’s enthusiasm is galvanized and sold. So much so that the language used in communicating projects and their intended change needs the attention it deserves.
Here are some ways language can communicate the importance, desired outcome, and benefit of a project to stakeholders:
Transformation not ‘project.’
The language of projects – particularly within a waterfall environment – indicated a clear start and end date. Ideally, projects should be characterized by this given that running a project indefinitely is not recommended, nor is it a great use of resources to be in a perpetual state of change.
However, the communication of projects – particularly those who have an enterprise-wide impact – can be better received when positioned as a transformation. A transformation indicates a gradual state of change from one position to the other. It shows incremental steps towards realizing a new baseline. It also shows continuity; something the language of projects typically do not do.
A new way of working, not an ‘end state.’
The conclusion of a project indicates an ‘end state.’ That the collection of activities to deliver a new solution, way of working, or output has now reached the end, and a new norm can begin. However, seldom is an ‘end state’ communicated in a way which indicates that while the project has ‘ended’ the mange new ways of working and have just begun.
Instead, from the inception of the project, it is better to communicate a new way of working on the horizon. Emphasizing that the project is the means to achieving the new way of working and not just a temporary inconvenience is crucial to encouraging participation and buy-in from those stakeholders who will be most impacted.
Continuous improvement, not ‘BAU.’
At the end of a project, we typically expect the output to become ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU). As harmless as this sounds, BAU suggests a reverting to old ways. It indicates that this very new output will be brought into the current way of doing things. Considering that the current way of doing things is what the project is trying to change, transitioning to BAU could harm the realization of the project’s benefits.
Rather, the language of Continuous Improvement indicates that while the projects have now officially concluded, there will be an effort to continue to find ways to improve the new way of working. It is indicative that transformation is in flight and part and parcel of day to life within the organization.
When delivering projects, the language needed is not merely a matter of semantics; it can be the make or break for your project’s success.
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