Improve project ecommunications by impacting stakeholders' human interfaces

Abstract

Is your goal to send your project stakeholders electronic communications (eCommunications) that are clear, understandable, effective, and efficient, and that affect your recipients more profoundly? To achieve this goal, you can use 7 Dimensional eCommunications (7-D eCommunications). They have the capability to impact project stakeholders’ 7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces, 7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces, and 7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces. The more dimensions of stakeholders’ human interfaces are impacted, the more likely the recipients will focus on the communication, view it as a priority, remember it, think about it, acknowledge it, share it with others, send feedback, and take action. This paper defines the concept of 7-D eCommunication and explains all 21 human interfaces, gives examples, provides a useful template, and challenges the reader with an exercise to create a 7-D eCommunication in order to apply the principles learned to impact stakeholders.

Introduction to 7-D eCommunications and 21 Human Interfaces

Problem Statement

In today's fast-paced and cost-conscious global projects, many of your stakeholders are in distant locations and different countries. As a result, physical face-to-face communications become impractical and quality electronic communications (eCommunications) become even more critical. We have all experienced the problem when some project eCommunications to stakeholders are vague, ineffective, incomplete, confusing, or lack impact.

The Critical importance of Stakeholder Communications to the Project Manager

Project Management Institute (PMI)® has published A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), wherein Chapter 10 (PMI, 2008, pp 243–271) focuses on Project Communications Management regarding Stakeholders. The two key points made in this document are: (1) Project managers spend the majority of their time communicating (PMI, 2008, p 243), and (2) Communication is one of the biggest reasons for project success or failure; effective communication is essential (PMI, 2008, p 419).

Solution: 7-D eCommunications

A 7-D eCommunication is a Plan Communications Tool and Technique used to impact the Project Stakeholders’ 7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces, 7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces, and 7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces in order to communicate information in an effective and efficient manner. Examples of 7-D eCommu-nication Tools include: eMail, eAudio, eVideo, eBook, and eWebCast (Exhibit 4). You can use these 7-D eTools with your critically important message content to impact all 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces of your Stakeholders that are listed in Exhibit 1 below.

Dimensions of Human Interfaces

Exhibit 1: 7 Dimensions of Human Interfaces,

Legend for Exhibit 1

  • The 21 Human Interfaces are divided into three groups of 7 Interfaces each and are color-coded in bold italics: Physical are red, Intellectual are green, and Human Spirit are blue.
  • The names of the Interfaces are based upon definitions in standard dictionaries.
  • The 7 Physical Interfaces can map to each of the 7 Intellectual Interfaces in a one-to-one relationship. If a Physical Interface is disabled to any degree, other relationships could become one-to-many.
  • The 7 Intellectual and 7 Human Spirit Interfaces correspond with one-to-many relationships: for example, “Understanding” may be the outcome of any one of the Intellectual Interfaces, whereas Knowledge may be the outcome of any of the Intellectual Interfaces as well as an outcome of “Understanding.” Human interfaces can be very complex.

What are Human Interfaces and Dimensions?

In this paper, each Human Interface is considered a Dimension of the 7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces, the 7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces, or the 7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces. A Human Interface is a point of impact of a 7-D eCommunication with a Human Attribute. Examples are as follows:

1) eMail that impacts the Human Interface to See as the Stakeholder reads the electronic message and graphics.

2) An audio file attachment to an eMail that impacts the Interfaces of the Stakeholder to Hear, Listen, and Understand.

We humans are complex and have many Interfaces; this paper does not include a complete list of all possible Human Interfaces. However, all people share the three categories of Human Interfaces that are included (Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit). The three categories of Human Interfaces are based upon the five Basic Physical Senses (To Hear, See, Smell, Taste, and Touch) plus the two Interfaces that integrate the sensory input into the brain to Think and then allow you to Tell this information to others.

All Human Interface information flows through the brain. Other groupings of Interfaces and Typologies of people are possible. These three categories of Interfaces are defined here, specifically for electronic Communications to Project Stakeholders and focus on critical impact points for human-to-human eCommunication.

What are the Benefits of Using 7-D eCommunications for Your Stakeholders?

  • To engage them completely and to focus their attention on your message in spite of competing priorities.
  • To help them quickly understand a complex message or idea—physically, intellectually, and spiritually.
  • To encourage them to comment, to give feedback, to act, and to share their ideas and feelings.
  • To communicate important project information effectively and efficiently by impacting as many Human Interfaces of your Stakeholders as possible so they can buy into the project's successful outcome,

Example and Template to Help You Use 7-D eCommunications

See Exhibit 2: Example of a 7-D eCommunication that can impact Stakeholders’ 7 Dimensions of Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit Interfaces. Also, a template (see Exhibit 3) is presented so you can map the impacts of your new 7-D eCommunication to the 21 Human Dimensions of your Stakeholders. As project managers you can apply these tools to improve project “soft skills,” using the exercise included at the end of this paper.

Truth and Emotions

The message content of a 7-D eCommunication may contain truth or lies, be positive or negative, be for your good or the sender's greed, and be factual or emotionally charged. How the message content affects the Stakeholders’ emotions first depends upon the ability of the 7-D eCommunication to impact the Stakeholder's 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces. Different emotions may lie behind each person's Interfaces, but none will be affected unless those Interfaces are impacted by the eCommunication. Emotions and pre-judgments may act as filters to each of the Interfaces and can dampen or amplify the impacts. The recipient can control his or her behavior and emotional responses, and therefore change the amount of filtering. Finally, it is up to the Stakeholders to determine the truth of the message: (1) to accept and use it productively, or (2) to challenge courageously any false statements in the message via replies and reactions.

The PMBOK® Guide and How the 7-D eCommunication Concept Maps to It

“Stakeholder: Person or organization (e.g., customer, sponsor, performing organization, or the public) that is actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution or completion of the project. A stakeholder may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables.” (PMI, 2008, p 450)

Once all the Project's Stakeholders are identified, the process (called Plan Communications) determines the Stakeholder information needs and defines a communication approach (PMI, 2008, p 251). Differences in the cultures of the Stakeholders need to be considered. A 7-D eCommunication is a Plan Communications Tool and Technique to communicate more effectively and efficiently with Stakeholders.

“A communication plan allows the project manager to document the approach to communicate most efficiently and effectively with stakeholders. Effective communication means that the information is provided in the right format, at the right time, and with the right impact. Efficient communication means providing only the information that is needed.” (PMI, 2008, p 252) The Communication Management Plan should also include the following: constraints, guidelines, and templates for project status meetings, team meetings, eMeetings, eMail, and a Project website. (PMI, 2008, p 257) By accomplishing the above criteria you can add a list and examples of 7-D eCommunication to your Organization Process Assets (PMI, 2008, p 32-33, p 253).

Typical 7-D eCommunications

An eMail is a prevalent eCommunication tool and is an easy-to-use 7-D eCommunication Tool. A multi-media eMail is included in this paper as an example to describe how each of the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces can be impacted (see Exhibit 2). This special type of eMail applies a number of embedded links or file eAttachments (audio files, video files, digital photo files, and eLinks). Other types of 7-D eCommunications may be used to accomplish this same objective and some are listed in the fourth column, “Typical 7-D eCommunication” (see Exhibit 4: Correlating Typical 7-D eCommunications with the 7 Dimensions of Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit Interfaces and their Attributes). An Attribute is a characteristic of an Interface. Each Human Interface is explained and an example is provided in the following text.

7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces

Sometimes, one of the basic senses can bring about an immediate reaction from different parts of your body, seemingly before you can consciously “think” about what is happening. For example: hearing a loud screaming siren, you cover your ears; seeing a dangerous object headed toward you or touching a flame, you pull away, and so forth. However, all such reactions still notify the brain.

To their credit, people with disabilities who are not able to use a body part or attribute listed in the 5 basic human senses, are able to substitute for that loss via modern technology. For example, people who have low or no vision may utilize an electronic screen reader on their computers, which reads and speaks (using synthesized sound) whatever the textual contents of their computer screens are.

Explanations of the 7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces

1) You use your ears to Hear the input of sounds, words, music, or silence.

2) You use your eyes to See the input of light, color, objects, and people all around you, as well as to read.

3) You use your nose to Smell scents of different types—some scents may smell pleasant, neutral, or foul.

4) You use your mouth's taste bud receptors to Taste pleasing, bland, or spoiled food and drink.

5) You use body parts to Touch and identify temperature differences, objects, and people to tactilely explain your environment.

6) You use your brain to Think in order to integrate the sensory information from the 5 senses: to collect, organize, remember, share, or take action based upon the informational signals from your Interfaces. Even when the body reacts to danger, seemingly before you can give conscious thought to it, your brain will remember the event so you can consciously avoid it in the future. Ideas are initiated for the body to act upon.

7) You use your brain, voice, and other body parts to Tell your experiences, ideas, sensory information, and memory to others, and to give feedback.

7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces

The 7 Physical Interfaces can map to each of the 7 Intellectual Interfaces on a one-to-one basis, with the brain determining the focus of the Interfaces.

Explanations of the 7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces

1) Your ears Hear hundreds of sounds, but to selectively Listen to certain sounds and their content, tone, and other characteristics requires you to focus and interpret them to determine their meaning.

2) Your eyes may See hundreds of objects in one momentary sighting, but to selectively Watch a few selected objects of importance in your field of vision require you to focus, interpret, and determine their relevance.

3) Your nose may Smell many scents, but to Discern them means you must focus on one or more scents to intelligently interpret and discriminate among those that may be pleasing or potentially dangerous. Likewise, you intellectually begin to Discern among resulting ideas and actions.

4) Your mouth may Taste many flavors, but you have to consciously allow yourself to Receive novel foods and drinks to focus on their qualities. Likewise, you intellectually become more receptive to receiving different ideas.

5) Your body parts allow you to Touch objects and others so that you can focus, realize, and recognize them. Now, intellectually, you begin to Seek and recognize yours and others’ ideas and to search for new ideas.

6) To Learn, you Think about, organize, and apply physical experiences and the results of the actions you have taken. Intellectually, you now include the results of realized ideas, news, experiences, and actions.

7) Finally, you are able to Reveal ideas, news, experiences, feedback, and actions about yourself or others that your senses can Tell to you or that were newly realized in your brain.

7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces

Depending upon your beliefs, the 7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces may be viewed as part of our humanity, human nature, or as spiritual gifts from God. Cultures around the world differ in their definition of spirituality; however, all Human Interface information flows through the brain. The Physical and Intellectual Interfaces are included in the explanation of the Human Spirit Interfaces below to show the continuum of relationships of the three categories of Interfaces across the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces.

Explanations of the 7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces

1) By focusing on combinations of sounds, words, and meanings, you can begin Understanding what you were Hearing and Listening to and what makes sense to your body, mind, spirit, environment, and world.

2) What you have Seen and focused on by Watching, you can place into your memory. Those memories form your personal Knowledge base of experiences and of Understandings.

3) Just as a scent can be Smelled and Discerned, an idea needs to be identified and Discerned to discover if it is real or imaginary, true or false, and ethical or unethical. Now, you need Fortitude and have courage and strength to stand by what you have determined it to be—and to take the proper action.

4) To Receive a new food or drink in order to Taste it implies you are Open to try new tastes, foods, or drink. You need Openness to be receptive to new ideas, explore these ideas, consider them, and evaluate them—to get a taste of the novel ideas and receive experiences.

5) To Touch tells you what is real, tangible, and tactile. Intellectually, you learn how to Seek people and ideas that can affect you and others. You can affect others’ lives by encouraging them or comforting their hurt feelings. Thus, your Mentoring touches lives by counseling them, advising them, and caring about them.

6) To Think about experiences and ideas that are Learned can result in Wisdom by applying these learnings to new situations and future actions. Also, you can display your Wisdom of experiences and thoughts by applying your Knowledge and Understanding to future events or new combinations of experiences and ideas.

7) To Tell your experiences and Reveal what you know and who you are may allow you to Teach this information to others and to share these ideas so others can benefit from them as well.

Example: 7-D eCommunication eMail Impacting all 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces

How can you map your eCommunication to the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces and quickly develop a 7-D eCommunication? A Template has been developed to help you plan your communication's content so that you can impact the Human Interfaces (see Exhibit 3.) Using phrases or notes enter your message's content/ideas in the first column on the row corresponding to the Interface it impacts. Then enter a brief comment in the second column of how the content/idea impacts that Interface. You will be able to see how many Interfaces you have impacted. Next, try to impact more Interfaces to maximize your message's objectives.

As a demonstration of how all 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces can be impacted with a 7-D eCommunication, Exhibit 2 shows a sample eMail from a project manager to Project Stakeholders. This personalized meeting invitation asks each individual to join the Project Requirements Analyst and Team to review Final Requirements and Expectations previously provided by the Stakeholder's Department. See the Template in Exhibit 3, which was used to prepare the final eMail content and to track impacts (these entries are in color) to the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces.

Example of a 7-D eCommunication

Exhibit 2: Example of a 7-D eCommunication

From Communication Plan for: INVENTORY PROJECT Audience: EACH STAKEHOLDER

Template for Mapping 7-D eCommunication to 7 Dimensions of Human Interfaces

Exhibit 3: Template for Mapping 7-D eCommunication to 7 Dimensions of Human Interfaces

Summary

Not every eCommunication needs to impact all of the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces

Some daily eCommunications may only need to be simple reminders or direct, brief, and factual responses to questions from Stakeholders to be efficient. However, important and vital eCommunications should impact as many Human Interfaces as possible to be effective, The Template may be used before drafting the message or after completing the first draft in order to improve or add elements to increase impact of the final message. Cultural differences also need to be considered. Even definitions of a “Stakeholder” differ, as recorded in the international journals for project management. (Project Management Journal, September 2010, p 29)

7 Dimensions of Physical Interfaces – Impact Guidelines

  • If you want to send an eCommunication to a person regarding an activity so that the person is engaged by the message, then primarily impact Physical Interfaces.
  • Examples: 1) An eMail invitation to a luncheon meeting containing the basic information: who, what, where when, why, menu selections, how to get there, and how to give feedback or to reply with questions. 2) A game product sales presentation to customers shown in a “4-D” theater that combines a 3-D eMovie with physical effects (e.g., vibration, wind, scents, rain, motion, laser lights, and surround sound) to occur in sync.

7 Dimensions of Intellectual Interfaces – Impact Guidelines

  • If you want to send an eCommunication so that the recipient is fully focused physically and mentally on the eCommunication, then primarily impact Physical and Intellectual Interfaces.
  • Examples: 1) An audio/video interview from a remote site with no audience interaction. 2) A training DVD repeating food preparation steps to refresh the memory of a chef.

7 Dimensions of Human Spirit Interfaces – Impact Guidelines

  • If you want to send an eCommunication that moves your recipient into action physically, intellectually, and spiritually, then impact all 21 Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit Interfaces.
  • Examples: 1) An audio/video ePresentation given by a live speaker at a PMI chapter dinner meeting that is interactive with the audience.
    2) An eMail invitation with a Microsoft Outlook appointment request (including audio and video attachments of endorsements from top management) sent to Project Stakeholders to join the Project Team for a Project Kickoff luncheon meeting to explain: Project's company-wide mission, all Stakeholder requirements and benefits, and the needs for involvement and action by these Stakeholders and their departments for Project success.
    3) Remotely located church groups holding an online shared eBible-Study, with interactive discussions, while having a “cake and coffee” break planned during their session.

Exercise: Invite Stakeholders to a Project Kickoff Meeting Using a 7-D eCommunication

To apply what you have learned, write a 7-D eCommunication eMail to invite Stakeholders to a local Project Kickoff Meeting for one of your new Projects. Budget is no problem; use multi-media as needed. Design it to impact as many of the 21 Dimensions of Human Interfaces as possible. It is not complicated – just apply the Template shown in Exhibit 3. (A blank Template is available at: www.KenKozy.com – click on Tab “2011 7-D eCom.”)

Next, compare your completed work: download an example demonstrating maximum impact on Stakeholders for this Exercise also at www.KenKozy.com clicking on Tab “2011 7-D eCom.” Compare what you wrote to the Exercise example shown – learning from any differences. FAQs and examples are also available at the website.

The more practice and experience you get using this Plan Communication Process, the easier it will be for you to utilize 7-D Electronic Media to make your next major Stakeholder eCommunication more efficient and effective.

Correlating Typical 7-D eCommunications with the 7 Dimensions of Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit Interfaces and their Attributes (Kozy, 2009)

Exhibit 4: Correlating Typical 7-D eCommunications with the 7 Dimensions of Physical, Intellectual, and Human Spirit Interfaces and their Attributes (Kozy, 2009)

Eysenck, M.W., Keane, M. (2000). Cognitive psychology: A student's handbook —(Fourth edition). Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis Group, Psychology Press Ltd.

Kozy, K. R. (2009). Project Management 7-D eCommunication Template. [Electronic Version] Retrieved from www.KenKozy.com website: http://kenkozy.com/Template7DeCom.aspx

Littau, P., Jujarfiri, N. J., & Adlbrecht, G. (2010). 25 years of stakeholder theory in project management literature (1984–2009). Project Management Journal, 41(4), 17–29.

Project Management Institute. (2006). Government Extension to the PMBOK® Guide—Third Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Author.

Project Management Institute. (2007). Construction Extension to the PMBOK® Guide—Third Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Author.

Project Management Institute. (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth edition. Newtown Square, PA: Author.

Young, D. J. (2011). Eleven steps to instantly improve your writing: Tips from an incurable editor. Portage, IN, USA: Writer's Toolkit Publishing LLC.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed

© 2011, Kenneth R. Kozy
Originally published as part of 2011 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Dallas, Texas

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