How to get people doing what you want

As you might imagine, we’re not fans of jargon (there are some surprisingly passionate advocates out there) – and we loathe corporate-speak.

A lot business jargon has become meaningless – or at best, confusing. So when we write for our clients we do everything we can to massage it out.

Some of the worst imaginable comes from the world of project management. It’s some of the hardest to shift too. Words like ‘deliverables’ and ‘outputs’ are so ingrained we don’t even realise they’re jargon.

And ‘work breakdown structure’, ‘aggregate planning’, and ‘business case’ may all be pretty standard project terminology, but they’re still unnatural shoptalk.

Systems overload

Project management systems such as PRINCE2, Agile and PRiSM have taught legions of project managers how to write and speak in specialist gibberish. An entire project-focused lexicon exists that often confuses and trips people up who aren’t project managers themselves.

Which is usually most of the other people involved in the project. It’s all rather self-defeating, when project management should be about getting things done as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Back to basics

Project management doesn’t need to be stuffed full of jargon. Most projects can be run well by asking some basic questions in simple everyday language.

  • What needs to be done?
  • When does it need to be done by?
  • Who’s going to do it?
  • How are we going to do it?
  • How will we know when it’s been done?
  • And most important of all – why are we doing this?

Some project plans take pages and pages to outline and explore these things using impenetrable terminology that gives everyone a headache. ‘Just tell it like I’m a six-year old’, says project management guru, Fergus O’Connell.

Keep it simple

Admittedly, we’re not building railways or the next Shard. But the work we do does need careful planning to help bring everything together and keep things running smoothly.

We just don’t think you need complicated systems and a whole new dialect of business jargon to help to you get there. (There are actual courses you can take just to learn project management terminology…)

Sometimes just saying things simply in plain English cuts rights through.

Because, at its heart, project management is about getting people to do things. And if they don’t really understand what you’re talking about, they’re unlikely to respond in the way you want them to.

Plain speaking gets things done.