The Subtle Art of Communication

Communication is part science, part social experiment, and part art. The science comes from psychologists who have come up with ways to quantify and qualify various kinds of communication. The social experiment is the process we all go through learning to communicate because communication is not a skill any of us is born with. The art comes into play with the human mind that can master the intricacies of communication in its many forms. When taken together these views of communication create a picture of a complex issue that many people only partially grasp. It’s not any wonder that developers, like any other person, encounters problems communicating at times. Yet, developers must have superior communication skills in order to translate the real world requirements defined by users who don’t know how to write code, into the abstract environment that comprises an application.

The issue of communication becomes even more complex with each person involved with the communication. We’re talking a geometric progression here. When you have a two people, there are only two lines of communication to consider. Add another person and now you’re dealing with six lines. Add another and you’re dealing with 24 lines. Now imagine that you’re trying to get every element of a huge organization to communicate and you begin to appreciate the difficulty of the Application Performance Manager’s job. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) has become a critical technology for enterprises today because people can’t communicate well enough to define the precise nature of application performance issues and errors. APM seeks to aid communication by providing tools that help locate the sources of an application issue before the user even notices it.

It was with this whole issue of communication in mind that I wrote, “Breaking Down the Walls of the Siloed Application.” This article answers two important questions about enterprise communication. First, what happens when a group of perfectly reasonable people become entangled in a enterprise level conversation about a problem application? Second, how does anyone resolve the issues that such communication creates. You’ll have to read the article to get the details.

This article could apply equally well to developers, manager, and users. In fact, it’s actually a view of what happens in any social setting where large numbers of humans are trying to communicate without much success. The artistic mind of the Application Performance Manager provides the creative solutions to the problem in this case. Of course, there are many other situations that this article doesn’t address (even though the advice I provide may very well work in these situations too). What sorts of communication issues have you encountered recently? Have you found a successful solution? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.