Do you have problems getting your message across? I have a friend that works in a business unit of her organization, and she had problems communicating with the IT staff. They didn’t understand her requests, and she didn’t understand their reasons why they couldn’t fulfill her requests. She found someone that “speaks” both IT and business, and he told her what to say to IT to get what she wanted. She tried it and it worked. Problem solved. She got exactly what she needed and the IT tech was happy to help her.
Why couldn’t they communicate effectively the first time? Because they were not speaking the same “language” with each other. Just like two people, each speaking different languages, such as Japanese and Spanish, will not understand each other, the tech and the businessperson will often not understand each other.
Whose responsibility is it to interpret? The person that needs to get the message across. My friend needed to get her message across, so she had to interpret her desire into a language that the IT tech would understand.
But it’s often people in IT that don’t interpret for the rest of the organization. How often have you explained the intricacies of the server configuration, only to have blank stares coming back your way? “Sorry, marketing folks. The server is only capable of handling 8 VMs without ballooning, and we already have 9 VMs on that box. We can’t do it unless you buy a new server.” You probably won’t get your new server.
Cater your message to your audience, and you will have more engagement. Here’s a better way of saying the same thing, but in a way that would make more sense to the average businessperson. “Sorry, guys. Our server is already doing too much and our web site visitors are starting to complain. How about if we find a way to purchase a new server that will be large enough to handle your requests?”
The first message may as well be in Greek; it would be just as understood by the average businessperson. But when you explain your world in a way that’s easily understood (“server is already doing too much”), and explain the current situation in business terms (“our web site visitors are starting to complain”), you will be communicating. You might just get that new server that you know you need.
In IT, we often get caught up in our own jargon. It’s great when we are communicating with others in IT, but we need to turn off the jargon when communicating with people outside IT. Once we do, we will be able to understand their message, they will be able to understand our message, and the business will benefit.
Have you closed the communication gap? Share your successes and failures in the comments below.