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Technology Strategy Patterns by Eben Hewitt

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Chapter 7. Approach Patterns

Here we introduce the world of the communication-oriented patterns. You might think of this chapter as analogous to Chapter 2, where I discussed analysis. It contains the underpinnings for communicating in a variety of business settings to help you accomplish your goals.

These are the patterns we examine in this chapter:

  • 30-Second Answer

  • Rented Brain

  • Ars Rhetorica

  • Fait Accompli

30-Second Answer

Executives are busy and need to synthesize a lot of diverse data points quickly. They ask technologists questions because they have something else in mind. They need to know things directionally more than in great detail. When they ask you a question, give them an answer that takes less than 30 seconds and has structure:

  1. Map an outline of three bullet points in your head, and then give the executives the simple, declarative, definitive answer.

  2. Add your three reasons or characterizations with your three bullet points also as high-level declarative statements. Picture a single slide, with one headline that is your answer, and three supporting points written in big, 30-point font.

  3. Stop talking and let the executive proceed. They will either make a decision, or follow up on the points they are interested in if they want more information.

Here’s a secret: nobody knows what to do. The boss is a person with children and a sick parent and nagging concerns about who will win the pennant and what’s for dinner and the possible emptiness of existence—like ...

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