The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Failure to communicate

direction.jpgI have been talking with several technologists lately about influencing leadership. They’ve been frustrated because they feel their concerns are never heard.


I have a fairly simple check list that I try to use in correspondence. When I need someone’s help, I try and focus on the steps that need to be taken now:

1)      Define what you need

2)      Share the facts that the hypothesis is based on

3)      Identify who needs to do the work (dependencies)

4)      Determine what can be measured to prove that the change had the desired impact (validation)


And naturally try and get #1 described in the first sentence or two, because many times that is all the time you have to get your point across.


As I read through an analysis (that someone spent a great deal of time gathering) I feel sad whenever the real call to action is at the very end. I tell them that it is their role as the person making the request to ensure that the reader can consume the information and actually make a decision -- quickly.


Closely related to this is the issue of answering questions (via email or in person). Depending on the personal style of the leader, when a question requiring a one word answer (e.g., “yes”, “no”, “10”) is asked, individuals need to attempt to answer that question first – and then go into the detail only if needed. If they don’t get that answer, it can cause the person asking the question to ignore everything being said, essentially defeating the purpose of the conversation.


Are there behaviors you see where others could benefit from your perspective? Have you shared it with them??

| ‎08-06-2013 05:08 PM

Had to go back and clean this post up a bit -- There were at least 3 grammatical errors.

Sorry about that...

Tim Lorey | ‎08-07-2013 03:47 AM

Thank you for taking the time to address this issue.

As a technical support analyst, I have found myself on both ends of this spectrum. Having a clear understanding of what it is you're trying to convey is the most important element, but often, your needs may not be known! So until you know what it is that you don't know, how do you know what you needs are? Although, you do have a point; sometimes your needs are simple someone to listen to you, or if you ask for help, is that your need?

What I am trying to say here is this: technical support is not cut-and-dry. What you did yesterday to fix a clients issue may not work with the customer your helping today (there are too many system configurations to have to consider before you even begin). Knowing the facts, and having a good working relationship with your client, is very important. Everyone has to trust. There have been many times a client has told me that nothing in their system has changed, to find out that they have auto update turned on, and the failed to restart their computer when prompted too (only an example).

I agree with everything that you say, only that there is not necessarily an order to complete the step. All 4 steps have to be answered, but not always in the order that you placed them.

Thank you for listening!

Portland, OR

Thomasheok | ‎08-07-2013 08:34 AM

Thank you for a good post :smileyhappy:

| ‎08-07-2013 10:23 PM

I also forgot about the concept that:


You should share negative concerns in private to someone who can do something about it.

You share praise publicly.

| ‎08-07-2013 10:27 PM

Tim - 

I gave them numbers just so we can keep track of them, not so much that they are chronological in nature. As you point out, many times they are iterative.


Another point I left out having to do with the "Yes", "No" is a bit of advice I recieved almost 30 years ago. If you don't know -- don't dance. That means it is fine to say you don't know (and hopefully you have some idea of how to find out but that is a bonus).

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