Deep immersion in a technical field is good and necessary in today’s world of hyper-specialization. How else would we develop expertise, hone skills, and discover the limits and possibilities of a given specialty?
Yet technical expertise can make it difficult to remain hospitable to those less familiar with the field or technology. While keeping both trees and forest in sight – knowing the big picture and the details – we can still get so deep into the woods that we become unable to meet and guide new explorers at the woodland edge.
Information “haves” and “have nots” can become separated both externally and internally – between your company and clients or suppliers, as well as between seasoned tech staff and those less familiar with the field. It is important during this challenge that we talk to each other – a lot! When we lose the ability to speak easily with one another, when mutual instruction doesn't readily flow back and forth between technical requirements and human need, both people and projects suffer.
Gaps widen in the absence of free and frequent conversation. Prevention is the best strategy here: work to create corridors for communication and put processes in place to encourage their use. If your team is past that point, it's not too late; but some house-cleaning may be required as a first step in changing your corporate culture.
A little over a year ago, we opened a new fabrication facility 2 miles east of the main office. In addition to natural and spontaneous interactions, we have instituted a weekly face-to-face meeting, plus a monthly chance to kick back and eat together. We’ve found this combination of intentional interactions - some with set agendas, some without - is just the right mix for keeping that communication corridor clear.