Coffeehouse Thread

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  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    I'm not sure how many of you are completely in IT, or how many of you deal with outside vendors or other departments within your company. I typically deal with other areas in the company, and like anything, the dropoff in tech knowledge is pretty steep. How do you cope with people that think changing entire website's designs (for instance) is a matter of "pressing a button somewhere" or "typing a word into the magic thingy machine". Wow, it takes more work than that (especially if the site is hundreds of pages in size). It's like I can explain that something may take weeks to work on, but they really just don't "get it" no matter what angle I take in trying to explain it. I'm also floored when people think it takes an hour to change a hyperlink (it takes seconds if anything).

    [C]

  • User profile image
    steel300

    Cornelius Ellsonpeter wrote:
    I'm not sure how many of you are completely in IT, or how many of you deal with outside vendors or other departments within your company. I typically deal with other areas in the company, and like anything, the dropoff in tech knowledge is pretty steep. How do you cope with people that think changing entire website's designs (for instance) is a matter of "pressing a button somewhere" or "typing a word into the magic thingy machine". Wow, it takes more work than that (especially if the site is hundreds of pages in size). It's like I can explain that something may take weeks to work on, but they really just don't "get it" no matter what angle I take in trying to explain it. I'm also floored when people think it takes an hour to change a hyperlink (it takes seconds if anything).



    Put everything in terms of money. When they see/hear a dollar value associated with what they're asking, they'll learn real quick how much work it is.

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    steel300 wrote:
    Put everything in terms of money. When they see/hear a dollar value associated with what they're asking, they'll learn real quick how much work it is.
    "NEED RAISE SEND MONEY S.O.S."

    Seriously, I know what you mean...when I try to approach things from a tech angle I feel like I have to completely dumb down everything I talk about which makes me sound like I'm clueless. I've tried explaining things in terms of hours, but that doesn't work. I've tried explaining things in terms of volume, but that doesn't work either. I even tried saying "look, your search engine results for the new/improved version of the site will dramatically improve which could save you from legal issues down the road" (long story). I can't tell if that last one worked or not.

    Expressionless

  • User profile image
    Mark Brown

    Not to over simplify but people relate to everything in life from a certain perspective. An accountant may see the world one way. A marketer looks at it another way.

    I learned through years of consulting that the best way to communicate to people with varying perspectives was to do my best to try to understand the world through their eyes. This always allowed me to find useful analogs to whatever "technical" or whatever issue I was attempting to explain where they lacked the domain expertise to simply "get it".

    Accountant: Can't you just push that button thingy and change that hyperlink?

    Me: No, see that would be like trying to change one of your accounting codes by just pushing a button. If we had to change an account code I'm betting we'd have to find all the dependancies first, then build a plan to change the account and all of the dependancies at the same time so we don't break the accounting system or its downstream reporting.

    It may be simple, but it always worked and showing some insight and being able to communicate in terms people can relate to can earn you additional respect as well.

  • User profile image
    LaBomba

    Good stuff Brown...Smiley

  • User profile image
    Cornelius Ellsonpeter

    Mark Brown wrote:
    Not to over simplify but people relate to everything in life from a certain perspective. An accountant may see the world one way. A marketer looks at it another way.

    I learned through years of consulting that the best way to communicate to people with varying perspectives was to do my best to try to understand the world through their eyes. This always allowed me to find useful analogs to whatever "technical" or whatever issue I was attempting to explain where they lacked the domain expertise to simply "get it".

    Accountant: Can't you just push that button thingy and change that hyperlink?

    Me: No, see that would be like trying to change one of your accounting codes by just pushing a button. If we had to change an account code I'm betting we'd have to find all the dependancies first, then build a plan to change the account and all of the dependancies at the same time so we don't break the accounting system or its downstream reporting.

    It may be simple, but it always worked and showing some insight and being able to communicate in terms people can relate to can earn you additional respect as well.
    Excellent advice...I was kind of thinking about some of these ideas, but I'll have to give this a shot...thanks!

  • User profile image
    KosherCoder

    A true story.

    In 1998, I was working for a mega-corporation, based in Detroit. My team was in a little tucked away group whose sole task was to exploit new technologies and recommend how they can be used in the company. It was an awesome job - except for the VP who oversaw the team.

    He was a couple levels up, but he fancied himself a techy. However, he was totally inept. One friday, he asked a couple of us to "put the internet on CD so I can look at it at home over the weekend."

    We thought he meant that he wanted us to get him online somehow.

    Nope.

    He wanted the entire internet downloaded and burned on a bunch of CDs so he could look through it all. We tried to explain that the volume of data (even in '98) was just unbelievably huge and his request doesnt make sense. He said we just didn't want to stay late on a Friday to help him out.

    After we containted our laughter, which took quite a while, we had to come up with a "real" solution for him.

    So, we took an estimate of the volume of data on the net, divided by the size of a CD, used the time it took to burn a disk on the old doublespeed burners, and estimated how many burners and disks we would need to complete the task by the end of the following week (to be fair). We also attached costs of the hardware.

    We never heard back about it at all. The point was made. I hear that proposal document still circulates within the company. As was said above, he just needed to see the numbers in perspective.

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