Nothing to do with 50 shades of grey
We humans are tribal, we prefer to associate with our family, our peers, our work colleagues, people who understand us. By which I mean share a language with its idioms, metaphors, cultural references, and communal history. It’s not, or should not, be about exclusion, but it can feel like it if you’re not in the in-crowd, or should I say IT crowd 😉
I’m guessing that psychologists and anthropologists talk in terms of belonging, bonding, possibly even mutual protection from outside groups? But in my world the many various reasons that people don’t ‘talk the same language’ is not primarily my concern. As a Business Analyst I sit in that sometimes tricky ground between 2 tribes, ‘the techies’ and ‘the business’, and my job is often to translate. Sometimes it’s less like being a Babelfish and more like couple counseling! I try to create and foster a common understanding of the problem and the solution that bring these sometimes-disparate groups together. The specialists on both sides can continue to talk in their jargon, clichés and obscurisms (not a real word, but I think it should be), as long as there are lines of communication and mutual agreement. I’ve recently heard the term IT Linguist which I think captures the role nicely.
It gets worse, smaller sub-groups or cliques break away and talk in their own distinct dialects. I don’t pretend to understand everything that groups of developers, architects, testers etc. talk about, unless of course I need to know! Despite decades and various movements in IT and software development to foster closer multidisciplinary working and collaboration, such as JAD teams and more recently Agile, the repulsive force always seems stronger and more persistent than attraction.
When I talk about differences in language, there are often annoying buzzwords or dreaded TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and the necessary specialised technical lexicon, but it’s the simpler concepts and English language words with different meanings that cause the most problems. In other posts I am hoping to explain some of these terms, so that we, meaning my readers in the wider community, understand, if not speak fluently, the lingua franca of IT. This is often why non-text models, prototypes or mock-ups are often used to convey a single verifiable truth. Physical ‘things’ and pictures of things speak of an older way of communicating.
Edward de Bono, a polymath, thinker and writer that I really like, he of Lateral Thinking and the 6 coloured Thinking Hats fame, says:
All jargon tends to become esoteric, that is designed for those who belong to the club and are in the know.
So beware all you in tribes, clubs and pseudo-exclusive societies, it’s OK to belong, but you have to be able to talk to the rest of the world sometimes. Or maybe hire a Business Analyst…
Let me know who you are and what IT jargon you need translating.
Comment here or Ask the IT Chemist a question.
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.