I manage a team of IT technical experts and I work with IT architects. I used to BE a techie – programming, creating code, creating applications, and making systems work. I haven’t done that in many years but I still get a thrill talking to hard-core techies and helping them explain things to people with little or no technical knowledge.
This week, I asked an architect to create a “one pager” for me to explain some technical jargon and the flow of creating code that ends up providing a service to customers. The service is managing a financial portfolio – as a customer, you would understand this as “owning accounts and wanting statements so you know what you have” i.e. a mortgage, checking account, credit card, and maybe a GIC.
To an architect, this looks like services and components and an ACM (application component model) all leading to a BRAM (business relationship architectural model). Architects like nothing better than complexity and acronyms.
I’ve worked with architects for over 20 years and there are good ones and bad ones, and then there are brilliant ones. I have the fortune to be able to tell the difference. The problem with architects is this – the smarter they are, the more difficult it can be for them to ‘sell their stuff’, get people to listen to them long enough to understand how to use what they know.
So… I talked to 3 architects and I asked for the one pager…and I got a 20 page powerpoint deck. I took the material and summarized it into a one pager, and then the fun began. The architects said I’d missed some of the key points as I summarized the material. I met alone with one of the brilliant architects, and told him (gently) that he did not give me what I needed and we needed to get the material summarized in a way that addressed what I needed and included all the information he felt was relevant. 40 minutes later, after a terrific conversation where he talked and I listened, and then I asked questions and he listened, and we clarified all the information I needed, we completed the one pager and both agreed it met the mark.
I pondered the situation on my drive home from work last night and realized there are probably a lot of these terrific technical experts (in many different fields) that just need a good translator like me to help them make things sound simple and valuable to everyone who is not, and does not want to be, a techie.
Next week, the one pager will be formatted and communicated to a large audience. And all those customers who get better service in the future will never know there was a document that started with too many acronyms at the beginning of the process. But they will like the results.