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Hang-Dai Wu, Hang-Dai November 15, 2007

Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Business Processes, Mythology, Problem Solving.
Tags: , , ,

Two groups of people talking past each other, goals missed, frustration abounds. You are lying if you don’t admit that this is common when the business units interface with the technical folks. Are they speaking English? We are but they aren’t. They’re lazy. They don’t get it. How do they get along in society?

This inhibits your strategy. The goal is to win, go home, come back tomorrow and do it even faster the next time, yet with people talking over each other’s heads there is no way you can start to run the race. Pitiful when you think about it.

One of the most memorable scenes from Deadwood involved conversations between slum lord Wu and evil anti-hero Al Swearengen. Neither could understand each other, and gesticulations added to additional confusion so they resorted to cartoon stick figures and and shouting matches until they communicated their meaning to each other. Al and Wu threw out all convention and stuck to what worked because they had no other choice. This clip shows the such a scene. Watch here.

You need to force your teams to do this. You’re all speaking the same language, why can’t you get it together. Start with nothing, don’t accept “You use words I don’t understand”, and win the day with cartoon-ish stick figures telling the story.

An active mind needs this unfettered communication to truly create and execute. Consultants, drop your charts and grab a crayon. When you capture what is necessary and sufficient, then you can unleash all your talents to jump start your ActiveEngine of creativity.

(For those who are interested, the whole can be viewed here. Be warned, the language is foul.)


1. bill - November 24, 2007

You make an excellent point on communication. To solve it, first you need to value good communication to the point you’re willing to invest in it ’til you see results. Too often it’s never acknowledged as the source of the problem, so it never gets the attention it requires.

2. ActiveEngine Sensei - November 25, 2007

The sad thing is that even when all parties speak the same language, they still talk beyond each other. In a way, Al and Wu ended up doing with the drawing better than most project teams do with advanced degrees.

3. King-Size November Round-Up « ActiveEngine - November 29, 2007

[…] imposing costly re-writes. * Plenty of philosophical discussions surrounding the importance of communication in projects, and why the development community needs to adapt new […]

4. What Others Are Thinking « ActiveEngine - December 21, 2007

[…] the one’s that Al and Wu have. Communication tools have been discussed here in earlier posts here . Developers fall down in this area, and many retreat to the corner of the Agilistas and pretend […]

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