Communicating out from the technical org

Effective communication is critical in any organization, but it can be particularly challenging to maintain alignment between the technical and non-technical parts of a business. The primary reason for this challenge is the complexities of the technical side being difficult to describe and put into the context of the company strategy. This can create misunderstandings and miscommunications that hinder progress and prevent the team from achieving its goals.

This isn’t an unfixable problem, it often takes practice describing technical concepts in an approachable way, having a leader who is skilled in both technical and business concepts, and trust amongst the leadership team to collaborate and find the best path forward.

Communication Practices to Bridge the Gap

To overcome these communication challenges, here are some tactical best practices that can help bridge the gap:

  1. Simplify the “why”: Technical leaders should avoid using technical jargon when communicating their wins or challenges. I’ve found analogies to be especially effective here, but think about the impact of your win or challenge and work backward.
  2. Use visual aids: Visual aids have proven to be the most effective communication tactic for me to describe technical concepts. Conveying your points in diagrams, flowcharts, or infographics helps non-technical team members to understand and trust your team. It’s often a helpful exercise for yourself to solidify what you’re trying to say.
  3. Regular strategy check-ins: Regular check-ins between technical and non-technical parts of the organization can ensure everyone is aware of status, blockers, changes, or decision points. This can happen asynchronously but is most effective when both/all parties are sharing their updates or changes to the strategic path forward.
  4. Push information to the org regularly: collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, and Asana provide a venue to share regular updates. Giving transparency into milestones, blockers, and decisions, whether through regular updates in a public slack channel or by sharing a task-tracking dashboard is key to keeping technical and non-technical teams in-sync.

Communicating outward from the technical organization is key in building trust and maintaining strategic alignment. These best practices will look different for everyone; find what works for you and your teams.