Be Specific!

I think i’m developing a bit of a split personality.  Before jumping to conclusions, let me tell you what I mean.  In one part of my life, abstraction is king.  As a programmer, your ability to recognize, comprehend, and apply abstraction is a fundamental tool in your toolkit.  Without abstraction – and proper application of it – large programs would be utterly incomprehensible.  They would be just a mix of random words and numbers without any means of interpretation.

But on the other hand, in the realm of business, I’m finding that abstraction can be quite dangerous.  Abstraction – and it’s evil cousin, vagueness – lead to all to many long meetings, or worse, miscommunication.

When communicating – with words, not code – I try my best to support everything with specific examples.  This can be hard to do sometimes, and i certainly don’t always succeed, but specificity in language is – i think – a good goal to strive for.

So in the interest of following my own advice, here’s an example of what I mean (it would be a pretty ironic post if i ended with the last paragraph, huh :) ):

This evening I sent out an email to our RIA meetup group.  I was asking for input on our next topic.  Specifically, I need two people to prepare some examples of UI design patterns they have followed when using RIAs.  Rather than just leaving the request at that, I provided an example about how my team used a JS call to caution the user away from hitting the back button and therefore losing all their work.

I hope that this specific example helped to clarify my request and hopefully made the task seem easier than it would have been if i had just left my request in a general form.

You have examples of how clarity in communication has helped you?

ps. the picture is totally random

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