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- Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire

Bridging the Tech-Biz Gap

Involving people from across your company to create outward communications strengthens internal communication and collaboration within your organization.

Organizations work most cohesively when the tech and business “sides of the house” understand and value each other’s contribution and commitment to a common goal or vision. Without this shared understanding, a gap can open up that we call the “Tech-Business Gap.” One way to bridge this gap is by applying empathy to your communication planning.

We can help you build the bridges you need and see the world through each other’s eyes, fostering a culture of empathy, clarity, and trust.

Contact us for a workshop: Empathy building via serious play

What's behind the tech-biz gap?

Successful tech products are multidisciplinary. To build a great product, you need to understand the finer technical details, the business model, and what makes a customer tick—plus the funding has to come from somewhere, too.

It’s tempting to identify primarily with your tribe—all of us do it. Marketers understand the customer, execs are attuned to how investors make decisions, and developers are on the same wavelength as fellow coders. Unfortunately, our biases towards the like-minded can prevent us from empathizing with others, even if we all think we’re pulling in the same direction.

To put a positive spin on it: The tech-business gap is also a sign that everyone is deeply invested in what they’re doing and believes they have the organization’s best interests at heart.

Sometimes we simply lack a common vocabulary to express this to each other.

Do you have a tech-business gap?

The tech-business gap can look something like this:

… Morale in the organization is not what it could be. People focusing on criticizing other teams and defending themselves instead of working together towards solutions.

We need to keep in mind that everyone has their pressures and daily responsibilities. We also need to remember we all have our parts to play. 

In this environment, it may be challenging to explain to a stressed sales exec why an afternoon’s code refactoring takes priority over a shiny, new feature.

Kick-start communications and pull everyone together

In the adrenaline rush of forming a new business, you may never have taken the time to bring everyone around a table to explain your motivations. Or perhaps you’ve recently grown, and newcomers haven’t had the chance to connect with your vision. A great first step towards cohesion is co-creating a communication strategy. Get input and consensus from stakeholders across the organization, not just from one department or role. Bringing everyone in lets tech and business sides generate mutual understanding and buy-in.

Our experience shows that one of the best ways to attain healthy internal communication (and community) is to start by creating a multidisciplinary strategy for external communication based on empathy, clarity, and trust.

Empathy

Empathy is about listening and actively seeking to understand others, their perspectives, and the challenges they face. It equips you with powerful information that helps you choose which stories to tell and how to tell them. Suppose a developer can explain why refactoring code creates value in terms a management person can relate to. In that case, they have a good chance of contributing to a constructive, fulfilling, and productive environment for everyone.

Clarity

Clarity is partially about finding a common language. Specialists often have specific vocabularies, also known as “jargon.” Between experts, this can make communication faster and easier. But it can also be off-putting and a barrier to outsiders.

Putting terms in a simpler, common language helps achieve clarity and consensus. It levels the playing field between jobs, specialties, and departments. Clarity helps us realize that, while we may have different perspectives, they’re all valid and help contribute to the success of the project or business we all strive to improve.

(*Jargon v Clarity image text below for robots and screen readers.)

Trust

Trust starts with communication and having an awareness of other perspectives, needs, and realities. Trust builds a culture in which we know all our various teams have the business’s best interest at heart. 

People trust each other more when they feel able to share and ask each other questions. A blame-free, “question-positive” environment in which people share common goals fosters healthy internal communication. For example, once a developer understands how salespeople entice users to pay for the product, they develop a greater appreciation for that line of work. Meanwhile, when the sales team consults developers to check the accuracy of their promises, they attain a broader understanding of your technology and feature road maps.

Our solution: Build consensus around a shared vision

Our experience shows that one of the best ways to attain healthy internal communication (and community) is to start by creating a multidisciplinary strategy for external communication based on empathy, clarity, and trust.

By working together to build consensus around a consistent line of communication, teams can better understand how other members of their organization are contributing toward a greater goal. 

In short, in agreeing on what stories are important to tell the world and what information is valuable to share with potential customers, we find agreement about our offerings:

And we learn how everyone else’s needs and contributions play a part in our collective success.

Getting to delightful and deliverable

Bridging the tech-business gap within your organization will take time and dedication. But pragmatically, talking with — and listening to! — your colleagues across your organization helps lay down a solid foundation of clarity, empathy, and trust. Including them in communication planning will also help ensure that your promises to clients and potential customers are delightful and deliverable. Delightful because you’ll be harnessing the best your team has to offer, and deliverable because you’ll have a chain of communication (and allies) reaching deep into your organization.

Contact us about your communication needs!


To get in touch with us, follow what we're doing, or learn about our Writer Enablement Workshops, email us at hello@openstrategypartners.com, or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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*Jargon v Clarity image text version

The presentation slide included as an image above shows two columns, the left one labeled "Jargon (clear for experts)," and "Clarity (clear for everyone)."

The expert jargon we've used for our example is from digital marketing and sales.


Bridge photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash, shoe photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash.