A communication path is an interesting concept that has a simple formula.
If you have two people on a project team, you have one communication path. However, if you add one other person to the team, your communication paths grow exponentially. The formula used for communication paths is (N × (N-1)) / 2. This formula identifies the number of communication paths on your project. “N” stands for the number of project participants that will need to be communicated with. Therefore, if you have five people on your team, the formula is (5 × (4)) / 2. For five people, there are ten communication paths; for six people, there are fifteen.
It makes you think about how many paths you have to communicate on to be successful in letting everyone know vital project information. This also means that your grapevine and potential “broken paths” grow exponentially as well. The downfall of many project managers in communication paths is twofold:
Failure to understand communication paths
Assumption that one communication method will fit all
When there are three people on a project team, it is pretty easy to manage communications. When there are fifty people and ten subteams, it becomes quite difficult. To account for this difficulty, your communications need to be clear, concise, and have their own plan.