Project Management

Avoid Ambiguity to Improve Performance

There are all sorts of factors that can plague a project that are outside of your control. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) can’t ever be totally eliminated from a project. However, ambiguity can be avoided because it is defined by how we communicate, and improving communication can decrease ambiguity. In an article for Project Times, George Pitagorsky explains how avoiding ambiguity can improve performance.

Adios, Ambiguity!

One of the ways that ambiguity can affect your project is through an ambiguous deadline. Imagine you have a project that typically operates under a deadline that requires compliance within 90 days of the effective date. But there has been some ambiguity in communication, and now there is confusion as to when the exact date is for completion. Because of this, more resources have been spent trying to complete the project within an unrealistic set of goals because higher-ranking company members have not responded yet.

Pitagorsky also describes a scenario how this ambiguity can affect someone’s role as well:

An employee with good project management and communication skills is assigned to a large complex program without clear understanding of her role.  She thinks that she reports to the CEO who has given her over to the executive to whom the point person responsible for the project reports.  No one clearly lays out their expectations of the role she is to play.  Relatively comfortable with ambiguity, she takes on a project manager role, focusing on communication planning with the intention of helping the program manager succeed by promoting transparency and critiquing written reports and other communications. 

The program manager, less used to and less comfortable with ambiguity, does not share information or engage in role negotiation.  Dysfunction follows.

What’s important about Pitagorsky’s examples is that these occur outside of hypothetical situations. Making assumptions about what someone may or may not understand is a bad habit. Become an active listener and put effort into providing and receiving feedback. Doing this can save a lot of time on rework and frustration in the future.

You can view the original article here:

Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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