Anders Dinsen posted some great comments and questions to my previous post (here). One comment was, "if I get your model", i.e. if I understand you correctly. I loved the irony here - I was writing a post about potential problems with communication (or trying to) - and I was getting questions about what I meant.
I thought the comment exchange was great. Anders was doing what good testers do - not sure if he understood me, he posed questions and stated the assumptions he could see.
A Recent Example
I'm reminded of a course I took a couple of months ago - it was called Communicating Value - and covered a range of topics and techniques, including presentation techniques and content, presenter style and negotiation techniques. One of the exercises was to give a five-minute presentation where you were trying to sell something or get "buy-in" for an idea. I chose the horrendously difficult task of trying to sell the increased use of qualitative information to execs in my organization (which is quite large) and do this in 5 minutes. This was a challenge for me because (i) the topic goes against a lot of "learning"/reliance/intuition about only quantative methods, (ii) the topic is quite complex to explain, (iii) my own explanation techniques can be quite "wordy" and abstract, (iv) execs are used to executive summaries - how to introduce the topic and content and get agreement in five minutes was then a challenge.
For the exercise, I modeled my presentation on a group of execs (that I knew) and on information that I knew they were familiar with and targeted the goal to getting buy-in for follow-up discussions to lead to a trial. In my experience this model worked with people familiar to the topic, the content and some of the related problems. For those not so familiar it became more abstract to them and they lost touch with reality.
- Models of communication (or content) do not translate automatically.
- Some models need more time to digest or understand.
- Some models need more familiarity than others.
- All models are not perfect, and so need the facilitation and guidance to aid communication and dialogue.
A Model for Communication
When I started thinking more about this I thought of this relation:
Communication = Artifact (model) + (Discussion and/or Dialogue)
Thinking about the example above, the good exchange with Anders and the previous post, I attempted to jot down some thoughts about modeling as a mind map, below. It might be useful, but as I've been saying, I also expect it to be fallible….