Technospeak

This post if for IT people but applies to any field with their own jargon. Scroll down to see the video I’m talking about.

Gustav Holst write a brilliant piece of music call The Planets. In particular, the Jupiter portion has always been one of my favorite classical music pieces. I don’t know the creator of the video, but he seems knowledgeable about music. He dissects Jupiter in a very deep way, using tons of music jargon.

I don’t understand most of what he is saying… I believe he knows what he is talking about, but I don’t know that he knows what he is talking about.

If you are an IT person, I challenge you to start at 1:30 and sit through at least five minutes of this video (for the adventurous, start at 7:30). Make a sincere effort to understand what he is trying to say. Try, as if your business depends on understanding it. Unless you have musical training, you probably won’t get much further than I did.

This is what we sound like to people outside our field. The organizations that depend on us aren’t able to understand the technology to the level we do. This isn’t because they are dumb (I hate the “dumb user” trope), it is because they are experts on other things and haven’t put in the years of focus that you have.

It is our job, not theirs, to figure out how to communicate better. We need to be creative in using analogies, metaphors, and straightforward language to communicate.

If we don’t, they may wonder if we know what we are talking about or just faking it by using jargon they don’t understand.

Cover Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash

What kind of wake are you leaving?

We rented a pontoon on Lake Itasca the other day (fyi a great state park in Minnesota). The lake was beautiful. Smooth as glass. The morning chill gave way to the warmth of the sun with the light breeze keeping it from getting too hot. A peaceful ride, with the steady hum of the motor, that gave me time to think.

As we cruised across the lake, I looked back behind me and saw our wake. Clearly, we weren’t going that fast, but the wake went side to side on the still lake.

As we go through life, we leave a wake. Wakes come in all shapes and sizes. I won’t bore you with the obvious metaphors of fast and slow boats, wakeboarding, watching out for canoes, waterskiiing, etc.

But I wonder if we would do things a little differently if we better understood our wake. We all have one. We can’t go through life without leaving one. We probably leave different wakes at different times.

So instead of asking “what’s in your wallet?” like the commercial, maybe we should ask what kind of wake are we leaving.

IT Leaders: Supporting a Staff Retirement

If you are an IT leader long enough, you will deal with a team member’s retirement. While similar to any person leaving a position, you may get more than two weeks notice, which can be helpful.

If you have a little more time, here are some things to consider.

Read More

IT Leaders: Walkabouts

The organizations that our IT departments serve have lots of parts, pieces, and most importantly, people. Walkabouts are a good way to stay in touch.

Walkabouts give you informal chances to have conversations with others in your organization. You can learn a lot from these hallway chats.

Here are some other things to consider.

Read More

Prioritizing IT Work: The Challenges

In a previous article, I described the work IT leaders need to manage: incidents, service requests, change requests, and projects. Since there is always a backlog of work to accomplish, prioritization is critical.

How can we prioritize effectively in the IT department?

Read More

Mistakes Happen – What Matters Is What Happens Next

Imagine two scenarios.

First, we are at a restaurant. Scanning the menu, we see lots of great options. It’s hard to decide. But finally, we do. We put our order in and sit back, mouth watering in anticipation. Finally, it arrives. And it’s wrong. We wanted french fries and got Brussels sprouts. Or vice versa. Either way, it disappoints us. When we point it out, the restaurant is very apologetic, brings out new food and takes something off the bill.

Second scenario.

Read More

Changing Your Mind is a Good Thing

It is with great satisfaction that I look back at myself five years ago and think about how much wiser and better I am. This feeling of satisfaction is tempered by the fact that five years from now I will say the same thing.

Andy Rooney (probably paraphrased)

This quote has stuck with me over the years. I want to keep growing as a person. One of the consequences of this quote is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will look back at today and feel good about growing, getting wiser, getting better. Of course, the last line of the quote reminds me that this will happen continually so don’t get too full of myself.

I think a major part of this is the ability to change my mind about things.

Read More

Build On Strengths

photo of golden cogwheel on black background

I believe that a core component of leading people is to understand and leverage their strengths. Everyone has parts of their job they are good at and parts they aren’t. Knowing the parts they are good at and figuring out how to use that strength is important. Let me give an example.

Read More

Making Decisions

Decide on a Path

As IT Leaders, we are continually making a wide range of decisions. There are all the normal people & business decisions that leaders need to make. Then there are the technology decisions that need to be made faster and faster. Throw in all the changes in consumer technology changes that are making their way into the business world. IT Leaders makes many decisions each day.

Big decisions, little decisions, simple decisions, complex decisions.

How can we stay on top of them all?

Read More

IT Leaders: Managing Ourselves

judgement scale and gavel in judge office

Managing ourselves can be harder than managing others. In related news, doctors and nurses make terrible patients. I’m married to a nurse, so I know this to be true. It is easy to wave it off, convinced that we are in good shape and don’t need any help.

Improving as a leader is a lifelong journey. As a leader, we are never as good as we think we are. But take heart, because we probably aren’t as bad as we think we are.

There are four things that are necessary to be a good IT leader. There are other important leadership skills, of course, but these are ones I believe are specifically helpful for IT leaders. Here is a brief explanation of the four.

Read More