Communicate, motivate, collaborate

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The pilot’s mantra
Airline pilots are taught the mantra ’Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’*. It stands to reason that they are there first and foremost to fly the plane and keep it in the air. Secondly, they need to navigate the plane to the target destination, and then to communicate with those who need to know what the status is, how the flight is progressing, any issues and so forth. For those interested in the eloquence of this, three is the magic number of literary composition**.

The project manager’s mantra
Now what about when it comes to project work? I suggest an alternative mantra:

‘Communicate, motivate, collaborate’

The first thing to do is to communicate. Project planning requires communication, risk management requires communication, issue resolution requires communication, stakeholder management requires communication. As project managers it can’t be denied that excellent communication skills are essential and we must use them.

Next the team needs to be motivated, to have drive and determination. If they do not have fire in their belly, it needs to be lit. John Kotter says ‘Establishing a sense of urgency is crucial to gaining needed co-operation’***. Let us inspire, encourage, embolden, and fire up the team to deliver.

Collaborate means to work together. Having communicated what needs to be done, motivated the team with the desire to deliver, we collaborate together, to complete the work successfully.

Conclusion: three powerful words

'Aviate, Navigate, Communicate'

Project managers
'Communicate, Motivate, Collaborate'


*'The Federal Aviation Administration ‘Fly the Aircraft First’

**Forsyth, Mark. The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase (p. 84). Icon Books. Kindle Edition

***John P Kotter, Leading Change, Harvard Business Press, 2012, Print




Posted by John Chapman on 5th Dec 2016

About the Author

John Chapman is Programme Director for Touchstone FMS His twitter is An experienced Programme Director, Programme Manager, Project Director and Project Manager; having led Programmes of business change, implemented Financial Accounting Systems, Spend Control systems, and Document Management solutions International Project implementation experience, with a good understanding of the challenges of working with different cultures, and the logistics of international project delivery. Publications include: Author of a. Your Project Needs You, b. Kafka, Pulp Fiction, Beer and Projects, c. ‘Project and Programme Accounting, a practical guide for Professional Service Organisations and IT’ published by Project Manager Today Publications. d. Member of the authoring group of the Gower Handbook of Programme Management 1st Edition. e. An acknowledged contributor to Managing Successful Programmes, 1st Edition and the APM Introduction to Programme Management 1st edition. The author of a range of educational video podcasts which are published at He is Communications Lead for APM Programme Management Specific Interest Group  (

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