"Communication" is often lost in a "to do" list

The word "communication" seems an unusual thread for an entire 2-day symposium addressing the latest research and methods for a combined knowledge and project management initiative. I'm never sure whether it's because of my experience in mass communication, my belief that knowledge management is really communication management, or just because I love to communicate with others... that I am hypersensitive to when someone "throws out" the word "communication" in their presentation. In retrospect, I wish I would have kept a tally for each time the word was used at the KPM symposium.

Often "communication" is buried in the middle of a slide as just one of a checklist of items "to do" in order to facilitate a project. Goals, strategies, matrix measurements, and reports are coupled with the latest techniques and technologies in order to better manage whatever it is so that a team is successful. What seems to get lost is that the only way to transfer data to information to knowledge is through some sort of communication tool, be it is simple as talking or drawing pictures.

I'm looking at the "School of Athens," and the one piece of information the painting is cleary "communicating" is that everyone is communicating! Our keynote speaker was wise in noting that the greatest invention and facilitator of our modern society was the Gutenberg press. It was the first form of mass communication—a way to transfer knowledge generated at one location to another at a distance. Having been brought through the ranks in a paper society, I acknowledge that paper is giving way to digital formats, and that project management is developing beyond the limitations of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) to join forces with knowledge management. Yet, at the core, regardless of the generations or technologies, is "communication" and it's many definitions.

I find it interesting that during a two hour discussion at our conference-end "knowledge café" in which we brainstormed about how to initiate knowledge management at our companies, the top three activities for immediate implementation were varying methods of establishing a means of "communication," both within our newly-formed KPM club group and at our places of work. My goal for this post is to "communicate" some of the most interesting parts of the symposium, so you'd better get a thermos of your favorite coffee. This might take a while... to be continued...