Monday, March 11, 2019

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication when it comes to Corporate Communication

I recently drive a presentation for the work/project i am involved in executing. It was for an audience that did not have much inkling about the project.

To establish a connect with people, i tried and gave some analogies about the building block of the project i.e. the APIs. 

Wikipedia definition of API is:
In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, communication protocols, and tools for building software. In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication among various components.
For anyone unaware about APIs, the above definition can turn out to be quite overwhelming. So i resorted to giving analogies to explain the concept.  I picked these up from this thoughtful a16z podcast.

Analogies for describing an API:
#1. Door of the house. Software is the house and door is the one that gives you access to all that's inside.

#2. Say you are building a castle (analogous to software product) and the castle has different lego pieces of different colors and different shapes. Those are the different micro-services and how they actually and how they connect each other is via the 4 end points which are the APIs

#3. Software is a body and APIs are the veins that are moving information inside the body. They take information from different organs of the body and move all the information around.

My inference from this experience:
Everyone loves simplicity but for various reasons professionals tend to express things in a complicated way. Some of this complexity is thrust upon by organizational culture especially the ones that are inclined to give more respect to people who use heavy jargons. (Just a disclaimer: I have nothing personal against people who use heavy jargons, most of them are learned people for whom these jargons form second nature.)

One of the lessons i learned from a leader i admire was that upcoming leaders should align with corporate vocabulary. The words that form corporate vocabulary actually stems of what CEO and the leadership teams speak externally, with customers, with partners and with employees. So, if the source that forms corporate vocabulary, there are heavy jargons , TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), the rest of organizations tend to follow the same.

I am reminded of this tweet from Vala Afsher about Elon Musk's dislike for acronyms.

The tendency to form own terms, jargons and acronyms slows down the communication in the organization and hence should be discouraged.

Organizations would do well to embrace Leonardo da Vinci's ageless lines when it comes to communication within the organization.

 "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." 

What are your strategies to uncomplexify communication ?

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