Posts Tagged ‘TMI’

Twitter – OK, maybe I DON’T get it…

June 6, 2009

This is a tale of a job interview a while back that left my brain spinning. No company names disclosed here – no sour grapes, either. The bottom line – the hiring manager wanted all status reports via an enterprise Twitter tool – “If you can’t put a status in 140 characters or less, you’re not thinking concisely enough.” the manager explained. I don’t get it…

I interview for a “real job” once every few years – I frankly enjoy being self employed – a lot… But once in a blue moon, a job opportunity surfaces that is so intriguing that I apply for it. This particular job was essentially a product manager with financial responsibilities and a small staff to communicate requirements and administer internal commitments with software development, manufacturing, support, sales and marketing organizations and external commitments with a hardware manufacturer partner and the primary customers. The job was “right up my alley” with a product that I was passionate about and an expert on in the industry. I recall thinking that I had this “in the bag”. NOT.

In the interview, the hiring manager posed a hypothetical situation and asked me to send him a sample status report by e-mail over lunch. I sent a one-page report with one significant accomplishment, two significant problems that were “under control”, and one small issue that posed a risk of become something much bigger if circumstances changed in a particular way. The hiring manager said, “I won’t have the time to read this – this is too much information… I will want you to Twitter the status.” What? I don’t get it… I asked, “How many tweets a day do you look for?” “Oh, sometimes none, maybe one or two – no more than that…” the manager said. “How often do you like to talk about status?” I asked. “Only when there’s a real problem, but I don’t want problems, just solutions.”

Huh? Risk and opportunity hide in nuance. How can you communicate nuance in a one-liner? I just don’t get it… At this point, I am telling myself that this is a disaster in the making – one I can rescue this company from, but one that may come with a lot of grief. I put on my “product face” and focus our conversation after lunch on the pertinent relationships I have in the industry particularly with the hardware partner and the proven expertise I have with this particular product area. I’m going for this job – I want this job – I live for a challenge! I really do!

I don’t get the job. I am REALLY disappointed.

A recent chance meeting with this hiring manager after a year or so had past gave me an opportunity to ask what soured him in my interview? His frank answer – “You weren’t using Twitter – you weren’t even using FaceBook. You would have been difficult for me to manage.” On its face, I understand that answer – a manager has a style, and a direct report in a key position has to accommodate the manager’s style. A direct report’s communication style can be crucial to the success of a working relationship – I get that.

But I don’t get Twitter as a management tool – Twitter is a casual “chatting” tool focused on “one-liners”. Tweets can convey context – who, what, when and where in real time, and there may be some real value in that, but a tweet doesn’t convey nuance. You have to mine for nuance if you are going to win the war – you have to look past the context and dig into the underlying “story” in order to step past risk and jump on your opportunities before the competition does.

OK, maybe I DON’T get Twitter, but on this one, I don’t think the hiring manager got it… I still don’t “tweet”, but, well, I AM on FaceBook now!

Context – Essential – the Best “Delivery”…

May 28, 2009

There can be a fine line between insufficient information and too much. Having said something previously about insufficient information, and for now reserving the issue of too much information or TMI for sometime in the future, I want to dwell a bit on how much information is just enough. Stand by for a few posts on this topic – it is broad enough to write entire books about. This morning though, I have been pondering context and how to deliver it effectively. If one knows the context, it becomes much easier to convey just enough information in a conversation, to make prudent and timely decisions, to impart essential and meaningful facts, or to simply tell a good story.

So, context – the classical Who, What, When and Where come to my brain. These elements provide a point of reference that sheds light on the relevance and intrigue of the Why and How. The Why and How is the “story”, and context is essential to “set the stage” and establish the importance of the story before it is told – to “suck you in”.

Comedians are masters at communicating context. Too little and you don’t get the joke, and too much and you lose interest in the joke before you have heard it to the end. Comedians “craft” the context to expose if concisely, and they personalize it to capture your attention and keep your focus. When you know just enough context, they unload the story on you – the “punch line”. If the context was sufficient and concise, and it resonated with your own experiences, you erupt in riotous laughter!

E-mail is also highly efficient at delivering context. The From, Subject and Date information in the header can lay out the context remarkably well. If the sender thoughtfully composes the Subject line, the recipient knows the entire context – all that is necessary to assess the priority of the communication and perhaps even a summary of it – in one line. Some E-mail spammers are becoming highly skilled at crafting context in the subject line to entice you to open up the e-mail. I think that we have to do something very innovative to battle the spammers – I have some novel ideas – more on that later…

Yes, today I have two new role models to study and emulate: comedians and e-mail spammers… With their help, I will improve my skills for delivering context that is sufficiently complete, enticingly personal, and yet concise lest I lose your rapt attention!