The discovery, acceptance & management of life's gaps

ANSWER Communication(s) – Project Team Principles

Monday 21 February 2011 - Filed under Communication + gaps + GTD + project management + Teams

The acronym ANSWER serves as a guide to successful communication. ANSWER stands for Accurate, Necessary, Succinct, Written, Effective and Responsive.

Accurate – Accurate information is critical to the success of any endeavor. When providing information, verify the source and the data. It is better to have no data than bad data, as inaccuracy leads to waste and frustration. When forced to guess, estimate or provide other “less-than-precise” information, identify it as such.

Though often overlooked/avoided… effective project communication requires us to accurately document our activities and progress. The entire team benefits when each member lives the mantra, “Do what you say and say what you do.”

Necessary – I have often heard it said, “You cannot over-communicate.” Though I understand the statement’s intent, I must disagree. Anyone who has sat through countless unproductive meetings or digs out daily from under a pile of e-mail knows over-communication is possible. Though an often over-looked criteria, simply ensuring your communications are necessary saves time and frustration. If it doesn’t bring value, don’t say/send it.

Succinct – An economy of words doesn’t simply save time, it eliminates the necessity of sorting the needle of importance from a haystack of trivia. Keep all communication short and concise.

Written – If it is worth saying, it is worth writing. Documenting specifications, plans, procedures, etc., facilitates understanding today and provides confirmation tomorrow.

Effective – A message sent is only as useful as the message received. Creating an effective communiqué requires a full understanding of the objective and the audience. E-mail, reports, charts, or information in any form, are only effective when concepts are easily understood and can be quickly acted upon.

Effective communication is an investment in mutual success… paying repeated dividends to the recipients; the team and the project. When a picture is truly “worth a thousand words,” let it do the talking. Never underestimate the power of shared vision- go to the effort of creating a chart or diagram. Even when our utilitarian mainstay, e-mail, is the most fitting form of communication, take time to choose your words carefully.

Responsive – Good communicators are responsive communicators. A quick note letting the team know you got it is just as important as working on it. And when your task is complete… return and report.

How to leverage the ANSWER acronym...
When communicating with others, use the ANSWER acronym. Let it remind you that project communication…
A. (Accurate) … must be accurate.
N. (Necessary) … adds value only when it is necessary.
S. (Succinct) … should be succinct.
W. (Written) … is most useful when written.
E. (Effective) … is worth additional preparation to provide effective presentation.
R. (Responsive) … should be responsive in content, form and timeliness.

2011-02-21  »  Russ Leseberg

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