I Am A Techie Translator

I love geeks.

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.

bang your head against the wall

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.

a typical architectural diagram 🙂

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6 Responses to I Am A Techie Translator

  1. huffygirl says:

    Maybe you should “leverage” your “networking” opportunities, using “synergy.” You techie people 🙂

  2. johncerickson says:

    Our recent cooler air in the US? Might be ’cause Satan’s learning how to ice skate. The US Army, grand-father of the acronym and tech-speak, has assembled a panel to simplify the jargon.
    http://www.stripes.com/wordsmiths-take-aim-at-simplifying-acronyms-for-army-1.152177
    There’s hope for us yet…..

  3. I hear you, Techie. As a tech writer, this is my life. Good thing I love it. What’s more depressing to me than the use of acronyms and jargon by techies is the same by corporate managers. It’s gotten so out of hand. Not to mention the word creation that goes on. Apparently, any noun can now be turned into a verb. 😐 And don’t get me started on the overuse of certain buzzwords. If I hear the word “leverage” one more time…

  4. dragonfae says:

    I feel for you. I keep telling the guys at work that I’m just a glorified translator … I take the “geek-speak” the brilliant engineer’s spew forth and put it into language the technicians can understand so we get the test data needed to satisfy our customer that our stuff does what it’s supposed to. Some of them “get it”, some never will. I hope yours “get it”. 🙂

  5. johncerickson says:

    Running a close second to the military in love of acronyms was the old US “Bell System”. LATAs, LANs, NPAs, NXXs, DALs, DALEs, they had a mess. First day working there, I got an entire notebook full of them. One that I encountered had no explanation – POTS. I pondered on variables of “Personal”, “Operations”, and a variety of other things, not wanting to ask and appear stupid. I finally sucked it up and asked somebody. POTS – “plain old telephone service”, to denote something not for business, digital, or other special services.
    I went outside, stood under the “El” train line, and when a train went over, I screamed myself hoarse. It helped! 😀

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