Have you ever thought about the true cost of ineffective communication? I am going to examine two recent studies and draw some vital observations.  In the most recent Pulse of the Profession, PMI found $99 million for every $1 billion – or 9.9% invested in project is wasted.  In another relatively recent PMI study, the cost of ineffective communication is pegged at $75 million for every $1 billion spent on projects – or about 7.5% of project investment is inefficient.

If we were to put these two numbers together, then the cost of poor communication is directly responsible for 76% of the overall project waste. That is just absolutely staggering. And while I realize it may not be completely fair to equate to separate studies across different years, the point is indisputable – the cost of poor communication is extraordinarily high – whether it’s 50% of 80% contribution to project waste.

Luckily the “in a nutshell”  answer to the problem is intuitively simple when you’re mindful PMI suggest a project manager should spend 90 per cent of their time communicating!  Project Managers should resort back to their communications toolbox: 1) Engage stakeholders; 2) Show empathy and support (deploy a plan to minimize the negatives, accentuate the positives and make needed change as painless as possible);  3) Provide timely reporting transparency; and 4) execute a communication plan. A communications plan is a detailed plan which defines the approach that a project will use to communicate with colleagues, team members, and other stakeholders. It helps ensure that your audiences is aware of the information they require, by formally defining who should receive what, when the information should be delivered, and what channels will be used to deliver the information. It also includes key messages and identifies any issues / risks which should be signed off by the project lead.

However though it may take a while to recover from the effects of poor communication, there are steps that can be taken to help rebuild trust, productivity, and accuracy.   According to John Baldoni from the Harvard Business Review, you should:

  • Acknowledge the problem
  • Apologize for the mistakes
  • Refocus on the reason for the communication
  • Allow people to express their points of view


All helpful in establishing yourself as concerned an trustworthy with your team!   John Baldoni has authored quite a few books on leadership, the latest of which is Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.  – Prof. Dr. Te Wu, the founder Project Management training firm PMO Advisory is among the few people in the world certified in Project (PMP), Program (PgMP), Portfolio (PfMP), and Risk Management (PMI-RMP).