Deep immersion in a technical discipline is necessary for an economy organized around hyper-specialization. How else would we develop expertise, hone skills, and discover the limits and possibilities of a given field?
Yet, technical expertise can make it challenging to remain hospitable to those less familiar with the field and its technologies. While keeping both trees and forest in sight – knowing the big picture and the details – an expert or a team can still find themselves so deep into the woods that they become unable to find their way back to the woodland edge to meet and guide newer explorers. They don’t know what the newcomers don’t know, so it doesn’t occur to them to pass on important information.
This is a critical and all-too-common situation. Our staff’s decades of working and consulting on technical projects have shown us that it’s typically at the interfaces between subsystems, between device elements and equipment, and between specialization teams that the greatest threats to successful project completion develop. 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 project or the field.
Overcoming this challenge requires talking to each other – a lot! When we lose the ability to communicate efficiently, when mutual instruction doesn't readily flow back and forth between technical requirements and human need, both people and projects suffer. In the absence of free and frequent conversation, gaps widen, and odds increase that if something gets dropped, it will fall through the cracks and lie there unnoticed, growing steadily more expensive to retrieve and deal with.
Prevention is the best strategy here: establish regular, reliable communication rhythms – ideally, from the project outset. But even in a post-prevention scenario, once you’ve begun to realize just how siloed your technical teams have become, it isn’t too late. It may merely mean that some house-cleaning is required as a first step.
If you ever find yourself facing down a mess of a multifarious technical project where the proverbial right and left hands no longer know what each other is doing, reach for the phone. Systems engineering, or whole-systems thinking, is one of our core competencies. Our expertise is built not only on our deep understanding of each facet but also on working out how to fit them all together in the simplest, most elegant, resource-efficient solution possible. Let us help you guide your project back onto the right path.