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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Project Communications Part 7 – Communication Methods - Push

Project, program, portfolio management
People often overuse push communications!

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” Gretchen Rubin

“One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship.” Jacqueline Leo

While many consider email to be an interactive method of communication, it isn’t. This is because it fails the “real time” test. I can send an email to you, and you can respond immediately, in a day, a week or not at all. That is hardly real time or interactive. I can also set up an email “group code” that sends email out to literally thousands of people at once. Have you ever had an interactive exchange with thousands of people at once? If you are reading this, probably not.

Email is not even the most effective way to communicate with just one other person. If you find yourself in an email exchange with someone, do both of you a favor and pick up the phone.

We are all familiar with push communications. The Sixth Edition of the PMBOK® says that “Push communications include letters, memo’s, reports, emails, faxes, voice mail, blogs and press releases.”. For those of you who immediately rushed to the PMBOK to check my work, you may notice that I dropped the word “artifact” from the quote. I did! "Artifact" is a specific term of art, and I believe it was misused here.

Push communications can be highly effective in small doses and play an invaluable role in managing a project. For example, recurring project reports can be easily shared by setting up an electronic list and automating the distribution as dictated by the Communication Plan.

The beauty of push communication is that you can identify exactly which stakeholders need specific information and how often they need it. You can then automate those processes and have regular project communications occur without requiring significant resources to manage the distribution.

There are several considerations when deciding to use push communication methods.

The first consideration is that while you can be sure that the receiver got the message, you can’t be sure they understood it or even took the time to read it! If you need the stakeholder to be engaged, try an interactive method.

The second consideration is the type of push communication. Receiving a signed letter in the mail is a profoundly different experience than opening an email. Consider what you are saying and the importance of the message when you determine the type.

A final consideration is that often “less is more”. How many of you open up your email every morning and just delete entire pages because it is spam. You can create internal spam by being an over prolific email generator. Give people a break! You want them to think “I wonder what Bill wants?”, not “Oh no, not him again…”!

Finally, don’t use push communications as an exercise in plausible deniability. The purpose of communication is to openly and honestly share information, not to pretend like you did to gain the high moral ground in some later skirmish. I’ll discuss this at greater length in a later post.

We are all flooded with push communications. If you want to be effective using this method, you need be strategic and cut through the clutter.


For my subscribers (thanks!), you know that my wife and I are bringing a new product to market, the SeaClutch. You can get more information here: www.seacutch.com On that website I have been cataloging our efforts to bring the product from an idea to an actual physical product in a store. It has been a journey! We got a call from our manufacturer, and expect the product to be here next week. Wow. We are both excited and scared. I guess we will know very soon if this was a good idea!


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