### Communications Channels

I was at a vendor site yesterday, discussing how they were going to satisfy our needs on four upcoming projects. There were four people in the meeting: the technical lead from the vendor, the product manager from our organization, a director from our organization, and myself. Since I am the project manager, I had to take into account each perspective of each participant. Communications grows exponentially, every time you add another person to a meeting or project. A project manager needs to realize the complexity and manage it accordingly.

The situation reminded me of a few questions that were on the PMP exam. **Communication Channels **can be calculated by using the following formula: **[N (N-1)]/2** where N equals the number of people involved. Do not just memorize the formula, **UNDERSTAND** it. Below is an illustration of the formula that should help you visualize it.

If on the PMP exam, I had been asked how many channels of communications existed in the meeting, I could either draw a picture with lines between the people or I could just use the formula. Take my word for it, just memorize the formula and understand when it applies.

It is absolutely true that for purposes of the PMP exam you should know the formula as is. In real day-to-day practice, it can be helpful to consider that in addition to the number of communication paths indicated by the formula as illustrated above there is an additional ‘dynamic’ when a person communicates with a group For example, what about when a person communicates not only with another individual, but with that individual when there boss is in the room? Or the boss and the bosses’ boss also in the room? Point is, when people ‘group’ with each other, the dynamics change.

It is absolutely true that for purposes of the PMP exam you should know the formula as is. In real day-to-day practice, it can be helpful to consider that in addition to the number of communication paths indicated by the formula as illustrated above there is an additional ‘dynamic’ when a person communicates with a group For example, what about when a person communicates not only with another individual, but with that individual when there boss is in the room? Or the boss and the bosses’ boss also in the room? Point is, when people ‘group’ with each other, the dynamics change.