We need fewer Communication Plans and more Listening Plans
The communication plan has become an element of focus on projects today, especially with the realisation that Change Management needs to be a greater part of the effort that brings projects to successful outcomes. Many who are a part of the growing “change management” community face challenges with the effectiveness of the communication plan, as traditionally laid out in the project world. Stakeholders cry out when they are not part of project planning, the changes being thrust upon them are not practical, and have not come with sufficient training. Perhaps a communication plan itself is not enough; rather we need to add or incorporate a distinct Listening Plan.
Most communication plans focus on the methods, timing and media that will be used to communicate project status and milestones to stakeholders. Although typically there are also discussions about collecting information and opinions from stakeholders, the emphasis is clearly on what will be communicated OUTWARD. Even if the project team included requirements and opinion collection exercises in the communication plan, the description often gives the stakeholders the perception these activities are secondary in importance. A Listening Plan would provide greater detail in describing the process approaches for information and opinion collection, how that data will be captured, what will be done with that information, and how it will be fed back to stakeholders.
Often managers struggle with “buy-in” and want fewer issues with uptake from stakeholders – they end up saying “why can’t they just roll with the punches and apply the changes.” Maybe WE need to change a bit – change our language, change our emphasis and give up a bit of control – and institute a sincere and well thought out listening plan. Therefore our stakeholders get the perception we care about their views and in return we receive critical information vital to the success of the program.
Are you getting the buy-in you are hoping for with your change initiatives? Are you willing to modify the way you approach your planning? Maybe the Listening Plan is an approach you should consider.
Additional “listening plan” and change management support is available!
Mindavation team members have been involved in substantial change initiatives for over 20 years. Our consulting services include assistance in the planning, transition and execution of project and change management programs. For details, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn about all of the Mindavation offerings at www.mindavation.com or www.mindavation.com.au.