Monday, February 25, 2008

What's In a Description

Over the last few months, I have come to realize that there are many things in business that causes people to become frustrated. Recently, I have been involved in this process, and I have to tell you, I am just as much frustrated as anyone else. I would like to talk just a little bit about this.

When people get together there are ideas, thoughts, whims and so much more. Often we refer to this as synergy. We are always moving ahead and forging new territory, whether we are involved in school or business, synergy allows us to get things done and perform proverbial miracles. These are great things. However, when we involve different people, undoubtedly there will ALWAYS be confusion. So how do we get around this? How do we make sure there is as LITTLE confusion as possible? To answer this, I would like to present a case study.

Case Study!

Jim is a Project Manager. His boss, Jason, has just come to him to help resolve Marketing's problem of overspending and under-performing when targeting their company's prospective customers. There is a current system in place that tracks dollars spent and allows for Marketing to follow what they are spending. While Jason was in a meeting with the Board, it was brought to the attention of the Board, that for some reason, new customers were simply not performing to Marketing's expectations. Marketing could explain this.

Jane from Marketing, Jim, and Jason all decide to sit down and discuss what needs to happen to better fit Marketing's needs. Jane and Jim were both originally there when the first system was created. Jane discusses how currently, she records the average cost for mailings, premiums and presentations in the system and shows how each list of perspective customers is out performing their expectations as the revenue generated from each event far out weighs the numbers entered.

This is fine, as far as interpretation goes, however, Jason notices that this can't really be true as there is a noted declination in the customer's performance. Jason would like to step back and analyze what they currently have. After discussing what they have, Jason asks "What do you do? What is your Job? How do you do it?" By these simple questions, Jason, Jim and Jane come to realize that there is a complete section of the process that has gone unnoticed.


Jim, Jason, and Jane all had their assumptions. Each thought that the system was working as originally defined, but yet, how could a section of the process be left out? What we really need to understand is that each person assimilates portions of data differently. We have a tendency to "make due" with what we already have. In Business this can be VERY dangerous. Communication and understanding from all sides is important.

Also, we need to understand that communication in Business is an iterative process. We need to listen, respond, and listen again. As we do this, we get to understand a process and can then properly put that process in place. It is FAR more important that something is done right effectively and properly the first time than to have to make a timely decision and re-do and correct mistakes that have been compounded over time. Try to, as well, think outside the box for best way to SEE the problem and not EXPERIENCE the problem. Be objective.

I think after reading and looking at the picture the easiest thing to remember is: "KISS". Otherwise known as: Keep It Simple Stupid! There is NO NEED for complex and confusing dialog. Be yourself and communicate effectively and that will be the best.