As you run a project you have two responsibilities: you must manage both your project and the business' relationship to your job. This second job is often more difficult. You are a technical expert, accustomed to working with other technical experts. Nowadays you must influence non-experts - executives, end-users and others -- who are in a position to help you in order to injure you. Welcome to company politics.
Political problems trouble, delay, and sink tasks more often than do technical problems. Resources are diverted, requests go unanswered, specifications mysteriously change, and business units either dismiss you or try to run things. People expect the impossible and pin the consequence on you because of not delivering it. People may listen and blame you for not telling them the thing that was happening. You must accept that communicating, advertising, and persuading are basic organizational survival skills. The success depends upon engaging the interest and support of very bright people who know little with relation to your area of expertise. You must always remember these "non-experts" will define your success or failure.
The label non-expert will not suggest stupidity or even lack of interest. Expertise is unique than brains: it requires massive quantities of information and many years of training in working with that information. You are probably appallingly ignorant of promoting or finance or accounting or manufacturing or customer support. We are all non-experts the majority of enough time.
Authorities and non-experts think in a different way. Despite this, we typically try to use the same communication strategies with both. We provide expert information - details and methods - to non-experts and think we have communicated. We have not. We have spoken but no person is hearing. Check out good popular science writers - like Matt Ridley or Timothy Ferris or Malcolm Gladwell. They concentrate on people, they give examples, and so they tell stories. They understand non-experts.
Recent work in cognitive science has driven a vivid picture of the non-expert. Outside our aspects of expertise:
we no longer think abstractly - we think concretely, in pictures, in examples, in metaphors, and in stories;
we don't think logically - we want help seeing how things hook up and how one event is related to another; and
the individual dimension of communication becomes more important - because we can't directly assess the evidence, trust in the messenger becomes vital; we attend less to what experts say and even more to how it will be said and who is saying it.
The less we all know about any theme, a lot more powerfully simple images and stories condition our responses. You need to know the images people have of your task and the stories they are telling. Are they saying it's another self-indulgent engineering toy; another waste materials of the money the rest of us work so difficult to make, another bleeding-edge effort? You only have one tool here - get in the business and listen. Speak with people and ask immediate questions. You need to really know what people happen to be stating and hearing. Should you be showing a manager how helpful your new scheduling process will be and her best friend from university is telling her how something like this screwed redirecting for three months in her company,
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