New challenges in project team communication


de Dorin Badea

Communication is recognized by all project participants as a critical ingredient for project success, and it’s not uncommon for communication to be identified as a key contributor to the success or failure of a project during post-mortem evaluations. It’s one of those invisible ingredients when things are going well, but extremely evident when projects are on the brink of disaster. There are plenty of materials available on this topic, and it’s extensively covered in the literature (see, for example, section 4.2.2 of PMBOK®7, in the chapter Models, Methods, and Artifacts). However, lately, I’ve observed that many factors intervene in classical communication models, and the methods that project managers and team members can use to ensure efficiency and cohesion in communication need to be re-evaluated. Necessity is an excellent teacher. When a global event like the coronavirus epidemic occurs, some teams are immediately exposed to disruptive factors (which almost immediately affect communication channels), while other teams have the opportunity to observe the disaster unfolding in slow motion and to urgently learn and adapt their methods to maintain a minimum level of efficiency. Other global events occur, and it’s not yet clear whether they will lead to fundamental changes or are just temporary trends (with their fervent and noisy supporters). For example, the phenomenon of AI that we observe in real-time, with both its benefits (present and potential) and its side effects (see, for example, the hallucinations of some LLMs in response to stimuli from users with agendas such as those exposed on – link – or on Youtube – link). The lack of project-level regulation on how AI tools can be used (if they can be used) can lead to confusion, frustration, disappointment, and tensions within the project team, especially when combined with other circumstances (“How did XYZ manage to analyze the WBS in just 30 minutes? They must have missed something…”). In this context, don’t forget to experiment with PMI Infinity skills (at or, if time allows, even become beta testers for PMI Infinity with GPT4 Turbo (link in PMI Infinity). These disruptors occur and evolve extremely rapidly. In a context where sometimes it takes years of practice to become competent in communication techniques, project managers find themselves in a situation where old challenges (such as indirect communication or intercultural interactions) are exacerbated by new disruptors. Communication methods, as well as communication channels, are changing in ways that users are not always prepared for, and new techniques need to be developed, tested, and used to maintain a reasonable level of efficiency in project preparation and execution. For example, communicating via video conferencing greatly complicates the mission of a business analyst who needs to collect business requirements and who is used to observing the non-verbal reactions of the interlocutor: they only see a small part of the body, at questionable resolution, and with a system-induced delay. All these new tools come with both a challenge and an opportunity. It remains the project manager’s responsibility to discern what is helpful and what is a disruptor, what can accelerate and improve communication, and what has the potential to distract attention and divert valuable resources (such as time) from the project mission. For those interested, we will discuss more on this subject in the session on June 25, 2024, at the “Moisil” Hall of the Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, at 7:00 PM, as part of the monthly event – Altered Human Interaction in Project Management – Constraints Imposed vs Human Creativity with the undersigned.