The piece I’ve linked to today offers up a framework for focusing project communications on immediate tasks at hand. The author - Atul Gaur - thinks of it as a “daily execution plan”, but it bears very close resemblence to what I like to do on a weekly basis. The nature of the big single-project work domain that he works in probably makes daily worthwhile, but in the multi-project marketing agency and IT environments that I’m most familiar with, weekly seems appropriate.
Gaur lists a set of task data as the core of the immediate plan - things like current active tasks, tasks schedule to start, and issues or risks associated with them. What I like to do to gather these items is make use of an easy 1- or 2- week date range filter on incomplete tasks in MS Project to eliminate the distraction of the future stuff that’s going to change anyhow. In most cases, this ends up with a short list of current and up-coming tasks that are worth talking about.
The only additional further out tasks worth talking about are those that require an “alarm clock” to reserve or assign specific resources ahead of time. When the near term view includes a warning that this reservation might need to be made, it comes up at the appropriate time - far enough in advance to be useful, but hopefully close in enough to be confident about actually needing them when the [religiously updated] schedule say so.
In environments that accept the idea of buffered schedules, the status of the buffer - particularly whether it’s been consumed to the point that it might not protect the project promises - should be sufficient to account for the full health of the total project without overwhelming the team’s necessary focus on the immediate tasks at hand.
Since an active project is an evolving thing, the schedule needs to evolve as well. Focusing on the sequence of short-term needs makes the larger effort manageable.
[Previously shared with my Project Management “Circle” on Google Plus. Join it by putting me into one of your G+ circles and sharing a 1-to-1 post with me asking to be included.]
Just because the “social” word is the current buzzword, it doesn’t mean that much about change has changed. It was never “messaging, communication, and sponsorship” that really got things done. It’s the “enrollment” (buy-in) that these things, when done right, accomplished. The processes are the same. There’s just more new tools to use to support them.