There’s often a substantial divide between business and technology teams. It’s more than mere miscommunication; it’s a foundational misunderstanding of each other’s domains and a lack of shared context for each other’s needs and goals. Imagine architects striving to convey their visions to builders without comprehending the construction process, or builders attempting to decipher architectural blueprints without a sense of the broader design. This disconnect between business and technical realms can lead to frustration, costly errors, and missed opportunities. This is especially true for marketers and developers or technology partners.
There’s a unique power that comes with aligning technical teams with marketers to ensure a seamless and productive collaboration. When these two crucial functions get on the same page, the results can be transformative. Clear communication and a shared context for business goals, needs, and priorities eliminate confusion, accelerate project timelines, and enhance innovation. By bridging the gap between tech and marketing, you unlock the potential for more creative and data-driven strategies, resulting in a competitive edge. In case you don’t happen to have a magical marketing-to-tech translator, here are some tips for achieving shared understanding.
Speaking in Tongues: Bridging the Understanding Gap
There are many reasons communication breakdowns occur between business and technology teams. In many cases, divergent communication styles and thought processes are responsible for misunderstandings, but there’s often more to the story. Here are three common gaps and possible solutions to align teams and come together.
1. Language and Jargon: Standardizing Terminology for Clarity
One thing business and technical teams have in common is they love their jargon and acronyms. Ironically, that’s also the root of many communication breakdowns that occur between them. In many organizations, seemingly straightforward terms can have very different meanings when used in different ways or by different teams. For example, will terms like “lead” or “account” be interpreted the exact same way to your sales, marketing, and engineering teams? Odds are they won’t.
Standardization of terminology: Bridging this language gap requires standardizing terminology across organizational departments where possible, especially for terms that apply to the business as a whole. Ensuring a shared understanding of standard terms within the organization can eliminate a significant hurdle to effective communication and collaboration between business and technical teams.
2. Lack of Context: Fostering Alignment with Business Goals
Miscommunication often springs from a lack of context. This can happen when team members occasionally lose sight of overarching business objectives. But more often, the challenge is that different teams don’t understand one another’s roles in supporting shared business goals and the intersection points between them. This context deficit can lead to misinterpretations and misaligned efforts and expectations, impeding collaboration between business and technical teams.
Clarity in business goals: Shared context begins with a shared understanding of business goals. Whether achieving growth, reducing costs, enhancing customer satisfaction, or another objective entirely, each team needs to have a clear line of sight into business goals. Connecting actions to goals: Besides clarifying the business goals, teams need to understand their roles in supporting them. For example, a developer or technical SEO optimizing website performance may need help to grasp how their work directly impacts customer satisfaction and revenue growth.
Transparent communication: Transparent and consistent communication on progress toward and contributions to business goals can be a potent tool for bridging the context gap. Regularly sharing updates on progress toward goals and highlighting how various teams’ contributions fit into the broader strategy can help drive alignment across groups and foster shared understanding and ownership over goals.
3. Communicative Friction: Creating a Safe Space to Negotiate Meaning
Miscommunication is typically unintentional. Individuals introduce their own mental models, biases, and past experiences into what they say, hear, and interpret. People also tend to prioritize their own perspectives, needs, and priorities without considering the viewpoint of others, often without realizing it. This can lead to misunderstandings, even when the message seems clear. For example, a statement about cost-cutting measures may be perceived positively by one team and negatively by another, depending on their prior experiences.
Fostering a culture of open communication: Encouraging empathy, active listening, and open dialogue can help individuals become more aware of their biases and better understand the perspectives of others. Organizations should strive to create a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable seeking clarification and providing feedback. This can help prevent misunderstandings from festering and becoming more significant issues foster a more positive work environment, and enhance overall productivity and collaboration.
Come Together / Connect / Bridge the Gap
Understanding the three common challenges outlined above can help you avoid some of the most frequent culprits of the divide between tech and business teams. Here are a few actionable steps you can take across your organization to further bridge the gap, prevent miscommunication, and drive shared understanding.
Set shared and aligned goals
They say what gets measured gets done. If that adage is true, what gets measured collectively gets done collaboratively. In setting goals, ensuring clear connections between individual goals, team/department goals, and company goals can help get disparate teams rowing in the same direction. And when appropriate, establishing shared goals that require collaboration to achieve can incentivize teams to work together toward a common objective.
Establish clear communication protocols
Develop and document communication protocols that outline the preferred methods of communication, frequency of updates, and responsible parties for different types of projects or initiatives. This will help ensure everyone understands the expectations and processes for sharing information.
Implement a project management tool
Invest in a robust project management tool to centralize project-related information, tasks, and progress updates. This tool should be accessible to both technical and business teams, making it easier for everyone to stay informed and track project status.
Cross-train team members
Encourage cross-training between technical and business team members to enhance mutual understanding. When team members understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, they are better equipped to communicate effectively and anticipate each other’s needs.
Foster a culture of transparency
Promote a culture of openness and transparency within your organization. Encourage employees to share information, ask questions, and provide feedback without fear of repercussions. When information flows freely, it reduces the chances of misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Conduct regular feedback sessions
Organize periodic feedback sessions where team members can discuss their experiences and challenges related to communication. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.
Use visual aids and documentation
Encourage the use of visual aids, diagrams, and well-structured documentation to convey complex technical information more efficiently for non-technical team members.
Monitor and adapt
Regularly assess the effectiveness of your communication strategies and adjust them as needed. Solicit feedback from team members and stakeholders to ensure that the solutions you implement address the specific challenges in your organization.
By implementing these solutions, you can foster better communication and collaboration between technical and business teams, ultimately bridging the gap and reducing the chances of miscommunication that can hinder your organization’s success.
Let a strategic partner facilitate clear communication
Just like a therapist can provide a trained, empathetic ear to overcome discord in personal relationships, enlisting a neutral third party can help break through the silos between business and tech teams to achieve mutual understanding. With a team of experts proficient in technical, marketing, and business strategy, our ability to translate between business stakeholders and technical teams is just as valuable to our clients as the work we do as data, marketing, and business strategists and practitioners.
By partnering with Tallwave, our clients gain more than an intermediary; they acquire a strategic ally capable of fostering collaboration and alignment across cross-functional teams and projects to create real impact for their businesses. Just as architects and builders seamlessly collaborate based on a shared blueprint, Tallwave facilitates the fusion of business and technology worlds, ensuring that your organization’s goals are not just spoken but realized.