Don’t mystify projects with metaphors 

I think communication about projects should be as clear, simple, and as easy to understand as possible.

But I hear Project Management is referred to as ‘Air Traffic Control’, with Project Leads called the ‘Pilots’ of their projects and them trying to ‘land’ their ‘in-flight’ projects.

Metaphors can be used effectively in communication to draw parallels with everyday experience and create familiarity but this relies on the metaphor that is used being something everyone is already familiar with. Referring to projects as planes, the person leading the project as a pilot, and the project control process as air traffic control doesn’t achieve this, it just adds a layer of confusing language. Using metaphors to mystify the process of project delivery adds no value to the projects.

If you tell me that the project is ‘in progress’ I have a clear idea of what that means. If you tell me that the project is ‘in-flight’ I have to filter the metaphor through my understanding of what it could mean to reach the conclusion that actually the project is ‘in progress’ but I’m still not sure that I have the correct conclusion.

Keep it simple and so obvious that no one has to think about what is meant by the language being used in order to understand what is being said.