Today I've been working at home on a presentation for my new CIO. It's a presentation about management and leadership and the title of this post is one of the bulleted nuggets of advice that really resonated.
Have a position and know why
Put like that it makes a lot of sense (and helps me unravel the mindset of my new boss too!). He role models this - role modelling is one of his things too - and that's something I strongly believe in, for example if a manager continually turns up late to meetings or doesn't respond to emails, what type of behaviour do you think their team will demonstrate? Exactly.
At the introductory meetings he had with the staff at our company he asked them to "do what they said they would do" now that's one of my pet things and I couldn't remember if it was one of the things we'd spoken about at our first meeting or not! It seems not, as it's one of his things too (he has a lot of things, and they work for him - he's a successful guy).
Anyway a while back one of my colleagues shared a National Geographic article titled This Science Ain't Gonna Communicate Itself: An Interview by Ed Yong answering questions about science communication and why he does it. Today's clearly a day for me to be receptive to nuggets of advice (or maybe today they're just falling into place!).
In the article Ed answers why he does science communication and he boils this down into "two proximate reasons (with my emphasis):
One: I really, really like the Intellectual challenges of explaining complicated things in simple terms, of structuring and writing a good story, or of finding an accessible route into an otherwise opaque topic. Concocting a good metaphor, or writing a good turn of phrase, or clicking a narrative together - these are just raw joy.
Two: when I like something, I feel compelled to tell other people about it. That makes me different from almost no one, except the thing I like happens to be science."
Yeap, I can follow that (although my stories are often much simpler so easier to construct!). But then there's a question about why science communications is important. To me, that's where it gets interesting and ties up with the other nugget of advice (in case you'd thought I'd forgotten about that already!).
"... I love science for the fact that it's by humans but not necessarily about us" and he finishes that paragraph with "I love it for its ability to take us away from ourselves for a bit." Continuing Ed talks about the "untold amount of beauty, elegance and wonder in science" while I'm not about to claim the same for IT communications I fully get his comment "it takes some unpacking to find it because it can be counter-intuitive, confusing and completely inaccessible" and love the shorter version where he says "I think science communication is important because it ain't gonna communicate itself..." I can substitute IT into there - and that's how I feel. I also feel that IT people find it easier to keep themselves to themselves so some of what's obvious to other people needs a bit of teasing out in much the same way that IT needs teasing out for others.
And the article finishes with the sage advice that "not all science is worth communicating" - that goes for any type of communication too right?