Use a Common Language (Communication I)

Marcus Guest
2 min readSep 7, 2023

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source: Simon Wardely creative commons license 4.0

Everyone hates long wasteful meetings, yet we have so many of them. Are meetings poor because people organising them don’t create good enough agendas? Is it because people attending don’t come prepared? Or is it because people tend to go off on tangents and sabotage the meeting? The answer as to why we have so many long wasteful meetings is a lot less complicated than you might think and, therefore, a lot easier to fix. Let’s explain.

Think back to the last good meeting you attended. Chances are this was a meeting with a small team of people in your own department, who all share a similar education or training and have similar skill sets or work experiences. Chances also are that this meeting was called to resolve a specific problem or challenge you all recognised and you could discuss it using technical jargon you all understood, which sped the meeting up. And chances are you focused on comparing the merits of a just few different options for resolving the issue that you all had some familiarity with.

This was a good meeting because (1) you all understood the problem, (2) you all spoke the same language, and (3) you were able to compare known options for action. Yet these positives that make intra-team meetings (within a department) good can become negatives when inter-team meetings (across departments) take place.

During inter-team meetings people from different departments tend to focus on their own needs. Faced with a client problem IT might push to invest in an innovative new technology it’s keen to try out; while finance, who need to get budgets done, push to get certainty about returns on investment that IT can’t yet provide. When they try to discuss this impasse each starts using technical jargon, which sounds like a foreign language to anyone outside their department. The result is that IT starts accusing Finance of not understanding modern technology, while Finance starts accusing IT of lacking business sense. But the problem is simply because they don’t speak the same language. Now Finance, looking to rid themselves of the uncertainty caused by IT, start calling to “outsource the whole damn thing!!” while IT, frustrated that Finance “doesn’t get it”, start calling for everyone to learn how to “go Agile!”. And the result? Yet more long, frustrating meetings to discuss this further.

How can you overcome these problems? The solution is a lot simpler than you might think. Click on the link here to a short video showing you how to bridge communication problems in inter-team meetings by using a common language you all already know: https://powermaps.net/adapt#language

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Marcus Guest

Govern the state by being straightforward; And wage war by being crafty. — Laozi, Tao Te Ching marcus@powermaps.net PowerMaps.net