Thursday, June 7, 2007

CTO as translator

The job of a CTO is to translate technology to business executives. I found a recent excellent example of this, a 4 min video on how a wiki works. I wish I could say I've perfected translation, but frankly its not always easy, and I have my slip-ups. Sometimes I get asked what an acronym means and I've forgotten, but I've probably already erred by including it in the first place.

When I am communicating an issue via email, I try to keep it short, in 3 sections:-
1) What happened - 1 or 2 sentences, mentioning business impact, not just servers/services
2) Next action - usually a now and later, or plan A/plan B
3) Decision needing executive input ($'s, unscheduled maint downtime, project delay, etc).

The key is to keep it short (just the facts), and to reread it with a non-technology eye. Using bullets helps. I'll sometimes run it by a non-technologist first to see if they understand it. Just make sure not to let your executive emails get lost in translation.

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