Ambiguity and over-communication

Leverage, the verb – using something to maximum advantage, is key to operating with effectiveness. A useful way to generate leverage is to invest energy in activities that produce disproportionate return. And, a reliable way to do that is to find causes and effects with exponential relationships. For example, one such relationship is that between a project’s level of ambiguity and the degree of communication required.

ambiguity-communication

Highly ambiguous projects benefit disproportionately from over-communication. If there’s inherent uncertainty and a lack of clarity in how you are trying to solve a problem, the team benefits greatly from regular check ins, status updates, and forums in which they can communicate. In such projects, we would do well to encourage the stupid question or redundant comment as they often help us understand sentiment, concerns, and may even show us the way forward.

At the other end of the curve is the reason why most folks complain about weekly status meetings. Most projects don’t have the level of ambiguity required to justify a weekly status meeting. The early stages may have justified a regular check in – but, the costs far exceed the benefits as time passes.

All this leads to the question this curve inspires – on the projects you are working on, does the intensity and frequency of communication match the level of ambiguity?