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Entrepreneurship & Startups Updated: 21 Aug 2017

The language of entrepreneurs

What is the best way for people working together on projects to communicate? Five leaders of Colombian technology companies share their experiences.

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Every technology-based project or undertaking in today's world involves a spectrum of different disciplines. Whether a company is providing solutions to external customers or developing its own products, specialists in different areas of software development, design and marketing are becoming increasingly necessary. And so are people from other areas who do not necessarily have the same technological knowledge.

Although they have different experience, they all share the same objective. Therefore, it is worth asking, what is the best way for people who do not share the same "language" to communicate? How do we demolish the myth that sees IT engineers as extraterrestrials, and in which they see everyone else as Neanderthals?

Everything points to the key being communication. In other words, we should not be looking for everyone to have the same knowledge, but for them to acquire skills that enable them to understand and open up to new ways of developing ideas, meeting challenges and achieving goals. In this article, the leaders of five Colombian technology companies share some best practices that have helped them communicate successfully with their customers and their teams.

1. Ensure the customer keeps the spark of their idea

The key is to keep the customer's needs clearly in mind. We have to let them express how they see what they are trying to achieve, telling us what they want to achieve, keeping the language simple and ensuring the conversation does not become too technical. We have to ensure that technical issues don't result in them losing the spark of their idea, or make them afraid of expressing what they are dreaming of. This will help us collect the information we need to complete the project successfully.

Giovanny Riveros, Project manager of IT project management company BrainTech.

2. “A picture is worth more than a thousand words”

When we present a project we try not to be too wordy. We have found that a picture really is worth more than a thousand words: pictures are a universal language.

Maritza Rincón, General producer of Fosfenos Media, a company specializing in producing audiovisual content children.

3. "Tact and powers of persuasion"

In an ideal world, a company would have the multi-disciplinary experts needed to choose the most appropriate person for understanding each of their customers. As this is difficult for small companies, the team needs to have the tact to know how to talk to the customer. Whenever there are communication issues with the customer, it is very useful to take some time to get to know them, having a coffee together in a relaxing setting, for example. And our powers of persuasion always need to be in tune. Sometimes the person appointed to lead the project is not always the ideal person. In such situations, without breaching etiquette, we need to find ways of communicating directly with others who might be able to help understanding, helping the person assigned to lead the project to make the best decisions.

David Castiblanco,CTO of ICT and innovation consultancy Tic Makers.

4.“Listen, listen, listen”

Rather than rushing to submit a proposal, first we need to listen, listen and then listen some more, until we understand everything the customer needs. It is a myth that some customers do not know what they want: often they just don't know how to express it, or we don't know how to listen.  We should not impose solutions. Our duty is to guide the customer so that they discover their solution.  If a customer is committed to a path that might be mistaken, we need to be ready to provide data, figures and alternatives to show them a different path would be better. And if they insist on implementing a solution that is perhaps not ideal, we need to clearly show them the potential consequences, and even be prepared to turn down the project, as it is going to be an unpleasant experience for all parties.

Jorge Buelvas, Head of specialist software products and services company Blinsoft.

5. “Develop a more comprehensive vision”

In addition to our team of programmers and designers, we also work with a historian, who helps us take a more complete vision of reality. As engineers we often restrict ourselves to deciding between A and B, and she often shows us that C and D are also possible. This also gives us a more social vision of our work, not restricting it to the strictly technical.

Danilo Vargas, CEO of videogame developer Biinyu.