How can I start talking the language of the business, rather than be the technical black box?

2.1k views4 Upvotes9 Comments

Worldwide Strategy & Portfolio, Cross Industry (Supply Chain, ESG, Engineering, Customer Experience, Intelligence Automation, ERP) in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Yeah, I still think that the age-old joke that IT and business speak a different language is true. The crux of the disparity is truly understanding what the business user is doing. It’s taking the time to learn the users job and what their goals are. It is also helpful to go through the change journey together and explain how the system works to suit their needs. IT shouldn’t be a black box as it’s a supporting role and only as good as what we as a team shape it to be.
CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
The best way to speak the language of the business is to know the business. Spend time with each department, but especially with Sales and Marketing. Listen to their pitches and their gripes. Over time you'll begin to see where the opportunities are (in business terms) and you can work backward from there to define technology based solutions.
Director of Engineering in Energy and Utilities, 10,001+ employees
The best way forward will be to get the teams engaged in the core operation of the company. The more one knows of how the business works, the better the correlation and alignment of technical aspects with the business needs.
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
IMO, the first step is to articulate the business value that a software feature or technology provides to your company and what customer problem it solves. Make sure that you do not use any technical jargon or acronym when you are articulating the business value. 

A good approach is to ELI5 (Explain it like I am five years old)
CTO in Healthcare and Biotech, 11 - 50 employees
Study an MBA. That’s what I did several years ago and it’s been the most helpful tool that have helped me understand better the business language.

Also, I learned a lot with all the cases we’d study back then, some of them are still current these days.

I took my MBA 20 years ago.
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Speak to the board and senior management in a language that they understand. Don’t talk tech with them, as they don’t speak that language.


And the book ‘Measuring and Managing Information Risk: A FAIR Approach’ is an excellent way to do that.
CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
Many functions have their own language and acronyms, for example finance or supply chain, but IT is particularly bad at this. 

The key here is to keep the technical speak for the IT people and to be able to talk business, to understand the business and to discuss the benefits etc of any project or change in business terms.

The best way to start is to spend time with the business and understand it. Once you can do that you will be on the right path.
Director of Technology Strategy in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
Take the time to understand their priorities, challenges, strengthes and weaknesses.

This will involve asking a lot of questions and a lot of listening. Continue to ask questions, right up to the point of clarity.

Use the power of story telling and analogies are always a good way to convey a message as well. It removes the language barrier and draws the audience in.

But most importantly, don't just show up with solutions. Make sure you understand the problems first.
Board Member, Advisor, Executive Coach in Software, Self-employed
you have to understand the business first, how it goes to market, how it prices, the margins and cost levers, and risks beyond cyber as well that could impact the business

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