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Talk The Talk? Talk Their Talk! December 17, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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We say it over and over, but it still bears repeating: IT must speak to the business in their language, not ours.  We are most effective when we embrace and understand the culture of our customers, and that starts with communicating in the terms they understand.

At the highest levels, CIOs must deal with the business as a strategic partner.  This means living in the world of finance, operations, and process.  In any general conversation between a CIO and a business peer, specific technology terms should be few and far between.  In the end, the business does not care about our geeky little world.  They only care about what we deliver and how it helps them.

But the advice to “talk their talk” extends across all levels of our organizations.  I was reminded of this recently when a published project status confused our business partners.  We were closing out a project that updated several thousand PCs on our network.  We had completed the updates but ran a special audit job to make sure nothing was missed.  The update was complete but the audit was only half-done.  The project status noted that 700 or so PCs remained to be processed in this last phase of the project.

The business perceived this to mean that all these machines were not even updated and got concerned about the project.  It took a day of poking around to figure out the real answer and reassure the business.  Had we expressed the status in language that made sense to the business, the distinction between the update and the audit would have been clear and the confusion avoided.

Those of us in IT often use the language of technology to either impress or confuse our customers.  This never helps in the long run, although it lets you get away with a lot in the short term.  In the end, another old adage holds true in our world: People don’t care what you know.  They want to know that you care. And that starts by speaking to people in a language that they understand.


1. Dan Folwick - December 19, 2008

So very true. Good words, Chuck!!

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