Let’s say you’re an expert in Information Technology (IT). From an early age, you were a natural at math-y, geeky stuff (Hello, Lego Death Star!). You studied something techy in school. And now you have an instant grasp of nearly every IT process and system.
None of this is a problem until it’s time for you to explain technology to someone else. At that point, a horrible affliction comes over you—what authors Dan and Chip Heath call “The Curse of Knowledge” in their book, Made to Stick.
The crux of the problem is what the Heaths call “an enormous information imbalance. When a CEO discusses ‘unlocking shareholder value,’ there is a tune playing in her head that the employees can’t hear. It’s a hard problem to avoid — a CEO might have thirty years of daily immersion in the logic and conventions of business.
“Reversing the process,” explain the Heaths, “is as impossible as un-ringing a bell. You can’t unlearn what you already know. There are, in fact, only two ways to beat the Curse of Knowledge reliably. The first is not to learn anything. The second is to take your ideas and transform them.”
And that’s where my colleagues Casey Gatti and Tani Gomez come in. Despite the fact that Casey and Tani are as geeky as they come (in a good way, of course), they are very effective at explaining technology in a way that the rest of us can understand.
For example, yesterday Casey and Tani sent an email to our staff addressing some fraudulent emails, web ads and phone calls that had recently come into our company. Here are the three ingredients that made this communication successful:
- Simplicity. There’s not a single technical term in the email. We know Casey and Tani are knowledgeable about Tech Talk, but they didn’t feel compelled to prove it.
- Specificity. The email focuses on the issues we’re having. It doesn’t recount the history of technology, or even explain the mechanics behind the issues. It just gets to the point
- Service. The reason Casey and Tani are communicating is to provide colleagues with action steps. So the email is geared toward “here’s what you need to do.” We can access that information quickly, without spending a lot of time on extraneous information.
Here’s an excerpt to show you how effective this email is:
Since there are different kinds of fraudulent ways emails, web ads and phone calls can be positioned to us, we wanted to take a moment to identify some of the more recent trends to be aware of. As we all know, knowledge is power against these cyber threats. Here are some helpful tips:
- Always check the “From” and “Reply-to” fields before replying. (This will reveal the true sender’s address.)
- Never click any web links in suspicious emails. (This will allow the spammer to know you received the message and send you to a bogus website.)
- In Outlook, don’t click the [Download pictures] button in suspicious emails. (This will allow the spammer to know you received the message.)
- Delete any suspicious emails from your Inbox and then delete it from your Trash bin.
- Never email social security numbers or other sensitive materials. (Emails pass through many unencrypted servers.)
These tactics will help prevent you from falling victim to a cyber-attack. Please connect with the Davis & Company IT team if you have any questions.
So simple, so specific and so helpful! That’s how technology communication should be.