Communication and Media Richness Assurance in High-performance Projects

From apppm
Revision as of 08:51, 20 February 2019 by WhyLoseTime (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

In Communication, the term media richness (or information richness) refers to the amount of information a medium is capable of transmitting per given time unit.



With a plethora of available communication tools and often high degrees of freedom in their timing, choosing the right tool at the right time is non-trivial. Depending on the choice of tools and timing, results will vary from excellent through acceptable to undesired. However, as no universally successful recipe exists for ensuring positive outcomes, having a good understanding of the various communication options and their attributes will increase chances of making rational decisions accumulated and translating in turn into complex, fit-for-purpose solutions.

This article seeks to help project practitioners gain awareness of different communication tools and timing from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Disciplines covered are human biology, psychology, mathematics, linguistics and culture, with use of case studies and best practice. The diverse angles on the topic are interweaved to bring a unified, in-depth understanding of the topic aiding practitioners to achieving better results in their practical application in project implementations.

A key concept discussed throughout the article is Media Richness Theory (MRT), or Information Richness Theory. MRT describes how various communication media, such as face-to-face interaction and email correspondence, have different characteristics in terms of their information capacity and transfer rate, notable advantages and disadvantages and situation-based use cases.

Based on MRT, three case studies will be discussed to analyse chosen tools and methods in relation to project outcomes. Conclusions from the case studies will guide the final article recommendations.


Organisations rely on communication to successfully complete tasks (typically organised in projects) and fulfil purposes. Since success is typically measured on a linear scale, any overall project success could be considered the sum of a series of intermediary successes. Project purpose fulfilment thus quite simply relies on good stakeholder communication on a continuous basis throughout the entire project lifecycle.

What separates standard projects from high-performing projects is that in the latter communication effectiveness becomes vital not only regarding accuracy but also for speed. In other words, communication needs to happen both precisely and quickly, allowing superb utilisation of project resources to create outstanding project results.

Given the critical role of communication in high-performance projects, the question is ‘how does one go about designing and executing this complex project system of communication?’. As Daft and Lengel universally put it, "How do organizations perform this miracle?" [1]

Human Nature

Information Media

outline of each of the key 5-10 methods of communicating comparison/contrasting of advantages/weaknesses. securing consistently lossless or low-loss communication is key to achieving a success.

High fidelity

Face-to-face interaction, video conferencing

Medium fidelity

Telephone call, internet chat, email correspondence

Low fidelity

Text message, letter, publications (article, report, book,...)

Case Studies

Dubai Aquarium

critically located and deadly risky structure = Poor design!

Herlev Hospital

finances not enough to finish entire building (x floors left unfinished for period)

Burj Khalifa

on time? on budget? fully functional/operational as intended?

Project-specific Characteristics

1) Human nature: Human beings have the inherent abilities of communicating and cooperating with each other. This section gives basic biological and psychological understanding and provides historic information on how communication has helped humans through history to achieve various results.

2) Information media: (incl. face-to-face conversation, video conferencing, telephone call, internet chat, email, text messaging), and

3) Case studies: A comparison/contrast between three similar real-life projects, where outcomes in terms of project success could be classed respectively as poor, OK and good.

4) Project-specific Characteristics - all projects are different, and have different challenges and opportunities. Situation-based opportunities and challenges: A look at which factors to a given degree could either boost or compromise project proceedings. This list could be endless, so the most appropriate few will be selected later as the article starts to take shape.


  1. Richard L. Daft, Robert H. Lengel (1983). Information Richness: A New Approach to Managerial Behavior and Organization Design. Texas: Department of Management, Texas A&M University, [Online], p.1 Available at: [Accessed 20 February 2019]
Personal tools