So, What’s the Plan?

The real power of a corporate vision is realized only when everyone in the organization clearly understands the vision and recognizes how everyone contributes to its success.  This is particularly true when project managers are assigned to successfully manage those projects that are most important to the company’s future success.  And yet, for most organizations, this is easier said than done.  In many cases, only a handful of people really understand the organization’s mission and how it translates to corporate objectives, and how the objectives realize priority projects.

It is equally important for everyone to know how the company is delivering on the priorities.  Project managers tend to only see their own projects, and they are unsure how the project they are managing supports the organization’s overall success.  Many project sponsors don’t take the time to understand the status of project activities and are often unable to recognize the early warning signs of a project in trouble.  Senior executives seldom conduct a check-in on the business plan as a whole to ask questions like these:  Is it still the right plan?  Do we need to shuffle priorities?  Are we properly resourced to deliver the priorities?  And most staffers on the front lines do not really understand how their day-to-day efforts support the mission.

 

The PMO plays a key role in connecting the dots and communicating key headlines throughout the organization so there is a global understanding of, and commitment to, the successful delivery of the business plan. The traditional PMO typically focuses on communicating individual project activities, only after projects have launched.  It is right for the PMO to focus on project communications, as this is the hub of their existence.  However, the PMO also has the responsibility to communicate the portfolio as it is being developed and while it is being executed; sharing this information across the enterprise enables a heightened level of understanding which further promotes plan success.

 

PMO leaders need to partner with others across the organization to get to effectively communicate business plan activities.  Align with marketing and strategic development departments to design and deploy a well-orchestrated internal communications plan that tells employees about the business plan.  The purpose of the communications plan is to provide employees with a line of sight from the company’s brand, mission, values, goals and performance to their day-to-day work.  The communications plan should be designed to help staff understand the overarching business strategy, the priorities (and why), the tradeoffs the organization need to make short-term (and what is expected of them) each year.  The plan must be straightforward and comprehensible to effectively inform all staff.  The idea is to create simple messages, and be creative about making the messages memorable.  Then you must repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat. 

 

Create a plan in a conversational and interactive format, which allows employees to relate to the information better.  Get feedback from executives who have the greatest number of employees affected by the plan so you can understand the employee impacts and concerns/aspirations/fears of staff.  Some of the questions to consider when interviewing business leaders may include:

 

  • What is top-of-mind for your employees today?
  • What do your employees know about the corporate agenda (project portfolio)?
  • What are the three most critical messages we need to communicate to employees around the current corporate agenda?
  • Any thoughts on how to best communicate these messages?

 

You may consider the PMO an unlikely keeper of the communications plan.  But, who, may I ask, does it today?

Lisa DiTullio

 

 

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