Episode 05: Non Techie In A Tech World

On today’s episode of Nurture.Team, the exploration we are going to have is:

Non Techie In A Tech World

As the name suggests the objective of this episode is learn how a non-technical team member improve their collaboration with technical folks on the team. In a diverse team setting comprising of technical and non-technical team members how do you ensure that each understands the other and that communication is seamless? Not only that but also the work environment should be conducive to the growth; both for the individual and the organization and most importantly it should be fun. Today on Nurture.Team with the help of our guest speaker, Amisha we will give you same valuable pointers on how non-geeks  (if we may so put it) can survive in a world of geeks and vice-versa.

About the guest speaker

Our guest today is Amisha Sud – Marketing Manager, Demand Generation, Twitter. Amisha’s penchant and interest for business and marketing led her to pursue a master’s degree in Marketing Communication from Northwestern University. Amisha has worked in varied organizations – Nonprofits, Marketing Agencies, organizations like HP and Microsoft in various capacities such as – Partner Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Developer Marketing and currently Demand Generation.

I wanted to know about the following: 

    1. What apprehensions do non-techies have when they work with techies?
    2. What challenges do non-technical individuals face while dealing with technical team members?
    3. What measures do people from technical and non-technical backgrounds adopt to bridge this divide?
    4. How can individuals who do not belong to a developer community be better understood by their tech colleagues? Does the developer community face similar challenges while interacting with the business teams? How can this collaboration between two distinctly different teams be leveraged towards achieving common organizational goals?
    5. Top three Do’s and Don’ts when working with technical minds?

Key takeaways

1/ It’s all about questions

    • While interacting with engineers, be direct with your questions.
    • Try to be precise with your questions and avoid open-ended queries (unless they are required to be).
    • When in doubt, think out loud with your team members – “Who is our user and what value we want to bring to the user?”
    • Go prepared. If you do not understand something, make an attempt to google it. Get some basic understanding and then start a conversation. This will go a long way.
    • There is no dumb question. Ask as many questions as required.

2/ Participate, Collaborate, Empathize and Prioritize

    • Don’t pretend to understand everything. Honesty goes a long way in building trust and also helps feed curiosity – try and understand the other person’s perspective, language and (sometimes) dilemma.
    • Reduce dependency on other team members by teaching yourself some basic technical skills so that you can collaborate better and facilitate informed discussions.
    • Understanding goals and motivations of different teams. It helps you empathize since you now know their challenges.
    • When approaching the technical team with your asks, prioritize what requires immediate attention.

3/ Promote and encourage cross-team events

    • Our educational system doesn’t prepare us to collaborate with the “other half”. This creates a gap between the two worlds.
    • Events such as Hackathons, Conference Demos, Customer Training Programs etc that are organized together (both by tech and non-tech teams) are a great way to encourage team bonding.

4/ Follow structured frameworks like the DACI (OR RACI)

    • DACI stands for – Driver, Approver, Contributor and Informed. This helps reduce friction and keep to timelines since it outlines the role of each explicitly, clarifies; responsibility, accountability and expectations.

5/ Do not underestimate the time it takes to deploy a code change.

    • Understand that technical teams work in sequence and you need to factor in time for development, peer reviews, testing and release.
    • This insight will help you plan ahead and set realistic expectations with your stakeholders.
    • Tech teams also need to understand that business teams may not have too much time at their disposal before they ask for a change.

Rapid fire with Amisha

    • What is your Spirit animal?

My spirit animal would be Dove because I tend to get stressed and sometimes need to channelize that inner peace and calm that a Dove symbolizes.

    • What according to you is your Super Power?

I have good instincts when it comes to people and projects. Also I don’t drink coffee😊

    • Name a book that changed your life?

I remember reading Malgudi Days in my childhood. It is basically a collection of short stories and what I took away from that book is that stay true to your roots. Also, how sometimes ordinary individuals accomplish extraordinary feats and surprise themselves and others by channeling their inner strength and virtues when its most needed. Lastly don’t take things for granted, be confident and don’t underestimate yourself.

    • Name one team activity that you endorse?

It will have to be Room Escape wherein you are locked in a room and you need to solve the puzzle in a stipulated time in order to find the exit. This is a great team bonding exercise because colleagues have to pay heed to others perspectives and rely on them to find a solution together as a team. This helps establish mutual respect and communicate with each other in productive ways to derive a concise solution.