No Time for Translation

by Mike Gugger, Guest Contributor

Every culture in the world has its own language. It is through this language the shared experience is communicated.

The shared experience is what develops into the stories that are told in the language and reinforce the culture.

This is a good thing, until the same concept is applied to industry, occupations and departments. Then it becomes a divider.

Every occupation has its own language, which it uses to include the acclimated and exclude all others. So now, in an organization where cooperation is pivotal to success, the engineers can't communicate with the business decision makers; the accountants don't understand nor can they get their point across to the Information Technology group.

Why? Because they’re not speaking the same language.

"Lingo" is divisive. It separates the tribes. It eliminates any change of efficient communication within a company or between organizations. The "arglebargle" (did I spell that right, Barb?) that is used in place of plain talk only serves to exclude the uninitiated or prove the speaker is (in their own eyes) more intelligent, more in tuned then the listener.

What is the point when one person talks and the other listens? It is supposed to be communication; efficient communication about the matter at hand. Not cryptic, acronym-laced, tribal lingo that can only slow the process due to the required translation. It should not be "us vs. them" in any company. To be effective it needs to be "we."

That’s what Crossbridge Communications and this blog, B2B Write Now, are all about. The point is that to be most efficient and compete effectively on a global scale, companies must have everyone speaking the same language.

Language must be used to unit the factions so that efficient communication can grease the skids of company business without wasting time in translation. In today's world, by the time Marketing has figured out what Design is saying, the opportunity has passed. You don't have time for that.

You learned this in the first grade. "See John!" Subject + verb. The other major parts of language are used to describe those two things. Your language and writing in the business world should be that simple, so the message is put across succinctly. No translation needed.

I am in manufacturing. In today's manufacturing organizations, the common language relates to non-value added activities, which we call “waste.” Everyone in the organization knows what the customer is willing to pay for and those are the only activities that people focus on. The common language of waste elimination provides the "hook" for communication.

It allows the CEO to speak to the guy on the shopfloor who runs the lathe and ensures both have a shared understanding. Engineering can speak to Accounting in the same tongue. Marketing immediately understands the Manufacturing department, and vice versa. No translation is needed.

Unite your organization with the language you use. You don't have time for translation.


Mike Gugger owns Machining Consulting Services, based in Manchester, Connecticut. Mike and MCS work closely with manufacturers to optimize material removal practices and help them develop cost-effective, world-class production techniques. He shares his practical problem-solving approach to Lean, leadership and machining in the MCS newsletter and in articles published in a variety of trade magazines and journals.


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