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Translate the techno-babble

Dennis Carter wrote an interesting article for eCampus News last year. It described a college CIO "academy" at Excelsior College's first Center for Technology Leadership (CTL) where the next generation of leaders learned about a range of topics, from how to lead a campus IT department, to understanding local/state/federal rules and regulations.

What caught my attention in the article was this bit:

The educational technology leadership program includes an entire day dedicated to communication, teaching aspiring college CIOs to "translate the techno babble" for presidents, provosts, and chief financial officers who control the campus purse strings.

A lack of communication, Brown said, "is the one thing that can really drive us into a ditch," creating tension between the IT department and the rest of the university.

How true. I've talked before about the importance of selling your vision, of getting people to understand not just why you are making a change or implementing a new system, but how your users will benefit from it.

If you cannot effectively communicate your message, how will people understand your vision? If your "sales pitch" is layered in techno-babble that only IT people will understand, what will your users learn about the new system?

Take a moment and consider the presentations you need to make on your campus, with the departments, with faculty and staff, and students. What language will make your message stand out? What terms will get in the way of their understanding your vision? Consider the acronyms and "geek speak" in your vocabulary, and find ways to simplify those terms into something easily understood by all.