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How miscommunication can throw your project schedule

Adeline Teoh ed.
October 21, 2014

Ever wondered what the bridal party is doing before they arrive ‘fashionably late’ to the wedding ceremony?

My sister married her fiance at the weekend. I, along with two of her best friends, were her bridesmaids. As far as weddings go, it was a fairly casual affair by a beach on the south coast, a few hours from Sydney. The wedding invitation didn’t even specify a dress code.

I’ve never been a bridesmaid but plenty of my friends have and the horror stories were unending. Not for nothing did someone coin the half-joking portmanteau ‘bridezilla’. And yet my sister remained calm throughout, breezing through things that might have wrecked another bride: an alterations fault in her dress that had to be re-sewed by my mother, the groom’s vest, which finally arrived the day before the ceremony, and family politics that made the reception seating plan fraught.

The day itself was sunny and warm, with a perfect blue sky stretching over the picturesque coastline. So far so good. We spent the morning getting our hair styled, then the hour before the 3.30pm ceremony getting dressed and made up. At 3.10pm we cracked open a bottle of bubbly, waiting for our ride to the ceremony.

At 3.40pm, we were still waiting, the fizz of the wine quickly replaced by the mild panic that comes from the dawning realisation of being abandoned. Fortunately, my sister had her mobile phone on her and called her friend, the one who was scheduled to drive us to the ceremony. Turns out, although she had told him to pick us up at 3.20pm (and had the text and his affirmative response to prove it), he had later been told by someone else to wait at the beach with the flower girls and ring bearers, where we would drive over the sand behind waiting friends and family.

This type of communication problem is not uncommon in projects, especially where teams are dispersed and there isn’t a central point of contact or project plan off which every team member works. If the way you delegate is based on tasks there’s a risk that people can’t see where they fit in the bigger picture, which then leaves them vulnerable to others who are doing other tasks for other reasons.

In my sister’s case, her project plan was in her head and each actor in the event was given a discrete set of instructions, which then became tangled when the bridal driver talked to the flower girl driver and decided to follow the latter’s lead instead of sticking to the task given to him. So now you know what happens in the time leading up to a bride’s walk up the aisle: the bride is not necessarily nervous or fixing a wardrobe malfunction, she may simply be waiting for her ride.

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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