Sunday, April 20, 2014

The communication challenge ...

A couple of weeks ago there was a video going viral on social media called "The Expert, A Hilarious Sketch About the Pain of Being the Only Engineer in a Business Meeting" ...

It's a very funny sketch, and many people have commented that "I have been in that meeting".  Business people don't get what technical people say - drum roll and big laugh please!

Now here's the challenge.  If you were the technical person in that room, how would you try and take charge of that meeting and prevent that car crash from happening?  The technical expert tries his best, but could you do better?

The challenge from me to you, is that rather than laughing "business peeps iz sooo stupidz", how could you turn situations like this around?  Because I guarantee you that you will be faced with at least one such meeting - if you have your sights on being senior, it'll happen more and more ... because you're the expert remember!

When I left Assurity to join Kiwibank, part of the fun and challenge was leaving a technical environment to one where I would be one of the few technical people in a predominantly business area.  I talked a little about this experience when I looked back at test estimation.  There's no doubt that like The Expert, I made a whole heap of mistakes, mainly by assuming my audience had a similar background in IT to myself.  But instead I often worked with people to whom the IT solution was a means to an end, and that meant I had to get into their headspace a little first.

Though I never got perfect, I certainly got better. And a major way of doing that was replaying conversations like the one in The Expert and asking "well ... how could that have gone better".  Give it a go ...

At the recent WeTest workshops, I was pleased to see Joshua Raine ran a fascinating session which I attended called "challenging the logic", which was based all around communication.  I feel sometimes we don't see enough things around communication, and one of the reasons that scenarios like The Expert happen - because as much as the business people failed to understand, the technical expert also failed to explain!  He's rerunning the workshop in May (although it's already looking quite busy) ... find out about it here.

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