“This is a long; much longer than a briefing note I would normally get from my manager or sponsor.”
These are words spoken by someone on a project management course. They were referring to a case study, 315 words long which took up less than a page of paper. The person went on to say they hardly receive a one line e mail, or a face to face briefing (which in some cases lasts no longer than 30 seconds) when being briefed about a project by their sponsor.
This brings me to a briefing activity we sometimes do with project sponsors. The activity involves 3 people with one person being briefed by another, and with the 3rd person acting as observer. I start the feedback by asking the person who was briefed to say what the project is all about. Their understanding was very low.
Poor briefing leads to misunderstandings and wasted effort to name a few. So what are some of the rules for better briefing by sponsors?
- have a clear objective and say what you think it is in your briefing, acknowledging that this may change once the business case is developed
- plan for the briefing – allow your self time to think how information will be presented. What documentation do you need? Who do you need the project manager to speak to?
- analyse the person being briefed and build this into your plan. For example, the person may like to ask a lot of questions or they relate more to written documentation which allows you to prepare accordingly
- test understanding by asking questions ensuring the person understands
- think about the time and the place for the briefing to take place (you would be surprised by some of the places people tell me they have received a [verbal] brief)
- recognise you may not have all the details at that time but the project needs to establish what is known/unknown
- get feedback yourself! You will only improve if you know how you have done and what better way to check than when you have just briefed someone
As a sponsor are you and your colleagues trained sufficiently well to brief people effectively?
Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net Choices by Renjith Krishnan ID 10023497