Thank you to everyone who attended our presentation at the Building Business Capability 2016 conference. Here are some of the slides as promised with a few supporting notes, but missing some of the interactive activity. Thank you for any comments and feedback, and questions you forgot to ask in the rush for lunch!
If you were not at the conference, you are spared my ad-libs, anecdotes and technology malfunction (video clip not responding).
Collaboration has to start and be constantly maintained with open and meaningful communication amongst all participants and stakeholders. This is critical to the success of all business transformation, software development & information technology projects, especially in fast-moving environments and with multi-disciplinary teams.
The Business Analysis Book of Knowledge, BABOK v3 says:
Effective communication involves both the sender and receiver possessing the same understanding of the information being communicated.
This means everyone involved in projects from the most senior decision-making executive to junior colleagues and IT professionals. Individuals and groups need to be nurtured and engaged appropriately.
Introducing the presenters
This presentation is bought to you by Tony Lawrence and Ellie Lawrence and the IT elementary school characters/avatars IT Chemist and Annie List. We are from the UK, which offers some challenges talking to a mostly-North American audience….more of which later.
Why we communicate
There are many reasons why we communicate in the workplace; here is a starter list. Do you agree, can you add to the list? I shared this on my blog on a company intranet and a colleague added, ‘To offer support and counselling’ – a softer less technical/information-related reason but important for social networking, teamwork and collaboration.
We all communicate as Business Analysts, Project Managers, team members, or dealing with Customers and mentees, for example.
Who we communicate with
We can analyse all those we communicate with as named stakeholders, groups or individuals, but I prefer to think of everyone from managers and colleagues to the customers and users as team-mates, real or virtual or collaborators.
Gone are the days – I hope – when IT geeks used to hide behind their computers. I know because I was one! Business Analysts and everyone involved in business transformation needs to be masters at effective communication skills. How else can we lead business excellence?
How we communicate – communication technologies
There are challenges though, the modern tools we use are far removed from the finely tuned skills our prehistoric ancestors developed to communicate and interact one-to-one and in small family and community groups. With all this technology, how can we be sure that we are heard?
Here are some examples where the introduction of a new medium made things more complicated, until (or if!) we learnt to use the telephone, internet, Skype and twitter effectively.
(1) The first telephone conversation from Alexander Grahame Bell to his colleague in the next room
(2) The technical failure that prevented the first internet message (“Login”) completing. Technology will always add new points of failure and somewhat unexpected outcomes.
(3) The confusing (unless you are Estonian) first Skype – voice over IP – message
(4) The first short abbreviated post on Twitter, or twttr as it was first known
To re-cap lessons from these technology ‘firsts’, were the inventors really thinking about the audience and the need for clear, concise, understandable communication?
Themes and case studies*
Here is a little look at some current themes that offer insights for better communication leading to enhanced collaboration.
*related case studies to follow
(1) Jargon, words and meanings
To prove George Bernard Shaw here are three common words, and the potential confusion due to pronunciation and different meanings and nuanced usage.
Not that a Business Analyst would include Process, Agile and Mobile in a glossary or need to define these basic terms, but think about the possible pitfalls and tips and tricks to make sure that everyone gets the message.
(2) Stories and storytelling
Stories and related terms and metaphors from the entertainment industry are a big part of a Business Analysts toolkit.
There are some examples in this post.
The IT sector has always been a magpie, collecting terms and metaphors from many sources. Historically it was more established industries; engineering, publishing and bricks-and-mortar commercial processes and artefacts. But what of the future, will we communicate in terms of AI, Augmented and Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things?
(3) Communication styles
How we communicate, and how we learn, are key to sending and receiving messages. As well as some models that look at personal preferences and personality styles, we must also consider the individual or group dynamics, the environment, and personal attributes and softer skills (Emotional Intelligence).
But why is this important now – or at least more so in the fast-moving modern post-millennial world?
The Agile movement and methodology offers some important insights on how we can communicate and collaborate effectively.
(Ed. not just applicable to Agile projects)
And, in conclusion, here are a few more hints and tips:
Thank you for watching, listening, reading, participating and thinking about my presentation. All comments and feedback welcome.
Tony & Ellie
(c) 2016 IT elementary school Ltd.