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Found in translation

October 10, 2016

“And we’ll use a lambda expression here” it's at that point that I realise the meeting has taken a technical turn for the worst. Making sure people of all technical (or non-technical!) abilities have a shared understanding is often quite a challenge. When I notice the gap in understanding the tact I often use is to ask lots of stupid questions. This allows for explanations and helps others feel they can do the same. I’m lucky enough to still be a bit technical, however I still find it helpful to practice playing back technical discussions as a layperson to check understanding.

Recently I came up with an idea that seems to cut out the middle man and forces the discussion to be appropriate to all. Someone (who wishes to be addressed as a "layperson") agrees that they are struggling with the lingo and takes control of the layperson pen. The team then have to explain it well enough that the "layperson" can draw diagrams/notes on the whiteboard to describe the discussion in a way that is agreeable with the technical staff.

I've seen this work really well and they saw a reduction in technical stories, lots of positive discussion, but most of all plenty of agreed understanding.

 

 

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