In order to achieve the results your IT department is capable of, you need to talk about highly technical concepts and issues in terms that your colleagues can actually understand.
By Samuel Greengard
The consumerization of IT has profoundly changed the face of the enterprise. But somewhere between BYOD, personal clouds and smartphone apps, there's a very real world of IT people sounding too much like, well, IT people. The unfortunate result—even with an outstanding team and state-of-the-art technology—is blank stares … and, too frequently, a trail of underperforming or failed projects.
Let's face it, you can't gain mindshare and achieve bottom-line results when people aren't able to follow the bouncing ball. How can a CIO reduce highly technical concepts and issues into terms people understand? What does it take to communicate in a way that educates and inspires?
A starting point is to recognize that nearly the entire corporate universe is swimming in jargon, clichés and meaningless lingo. It's nothing short of an epidemic. Here are four rules to gain buy-in and mindshare:
Rule #1: Drop the esoteric terms and arcane references and speak English.
If you're French, then speak French. In today's democratized business environment, people no longer gain power by building a wall and trying to impress others with their knowledge. They succeed by building bridges. Focus on how you can communicate and collaborate more effectively.
Rule #2: Lose the bumper sticker thinking.
Business is not a collection of technology buzzwords. It's the meshing of processes with IT systems to deliver greater productivity and performance. When you think in buzzwords you're creating meaningless signposts and slogans rather than using real-world language to explain things in real-world ways.
Rule #3: Keep it human.
Business is ultimately about humans performing tasks for other humans. If you explain things in a real-world way, keep messages streamlined and use anecdotes to illustrate points (without become overly folksy and losing the point somewhere along the way), you will do a much better job of grabbing attention and keeping people tuned in.
Rule #4: Focus on leadership.
Look into people's eyes; take time to answer their questions and address their concerns in plain language; consider their ideas; strive for accuracy, honesty and transparency; and admit mistakes. This builds trust and credibility. In fact, the ability to relate to others creates pathways for short-term wins and long-term success.
Follow these four rules. Not only will they make your job easier, but they will better ensure your IT projects are successful.
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, "Welcome to the Marginal Cost Society," click here.
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