The last few business development and planning meetings between my team and external third parties exposed an aggravating trend: The lack of a mutual understanding of taxonomies wasted time and both parties ended up talking over and thru over each other just trying to figure out what each other was really intending with their word choice. Seemingly basic words such as “provisioning”, “application”, “management console” and “entitlement” meant different things to each group.
Reminds me of this now famous quote: “It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is…”
This is because many organizations develop an internal vocabulary and slang for how they communicate with each other about their respective product/service. Externalizing this “internal” vocabulary is difficult.
In a typical two hour meeting with multiple people from each party a good one-quarter of the time is wasted because there was no mutually understood taxonomy. Usually the meeting is well underway before it becomes obvious that “we’re confusing each other with dual-meaning words”… “let’s start over and first focus on the definitions for [...each term].”
Maybe this is a natural process that has to happen, or maybe there is a better way. With foresight and homework meeting planners can anticipate the common words that might have dual meanings and establish the vocabulary up-front. I’m going to try this tact for my next external meeting.