What happens when marketing and sales get in on what developers do?
Working at technology companies can be exciting. The feeling of really changing something in the world is powerful. The tech industry relies on cross-pollination between technical and non-technical people. Ideas and best practices have been traded off between professions as long as there have been specialists collaborating to build things.
But when words that developers use – clear, precise, technical and process terms – are appropriated by everyone else, it can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, and sometimes even a little comic relief.
'We’re going Agile'
"Agile" has leaked out of dev teams (see below for more on the alleged death of Agile and what it is to dev teams). I believe there have been successful and productive applications of Agile methodologies to non-developer teams delivering things other than software, but it can be a stretch.
For example, I went to a lot of conferences about digital government in the last five years or so. Everybody from local councils to national governments either wanted to “go Agile” or reported that “we’re Agile now.”
My impression is that many of our digital agency friends and colleagues found the Agile trend in government a little frustrating. Putting work in a “backlog”–but with specific deliverables, priorities, and deadlines–doesn’t make a team “agile.” Putting work requests into an online form isn’t agile. Making me sign off on a novel-length requirements catalog for a fixed delivery deadline and budget is in no way agile, even if you want me to deliver it in “sprints”, you know?
But at least we’re agile now.
Language is contagious
Developer friends of mine have told me that once you hear Marketing using it, your word is dead. And between The Cardinal Marketing Sins of Clickbait and Buzzword Overuse, I feel the same sometimes. Non-technical people at software and technology companies (should!) interact with developers. And language is contagious.
Even when marketers do the right thing and collaborate with our technical colleagues to tell compelling, accurate stories about technology, well … after awhile, you start to hear odd things uttered by Sales folks and other non-techies. I cringed at some of these when I first heard them used out of context. I laughed at others.
- “Can you ping me that file?” … NOOOOO! A ping is a query to another computer somewhere on a network to determine whether there is a connection to it. Use "ping" like a friendly "Hello! Are you there?" in chat. And if someone "pings" you, "pong" is a good answer :-)
- “We’re having a Marketing Hackathon” … What are we hacking? Oh! You mean “Overtime week?”
- “Fail fast, scale fast.” Hm. Maybe … In open source Drupal Land, we’ve tried to “fail fast and fail better,” but the high tech cult of failure-as-success has always struck me as odd.
- “We need to go straight to Blockchain so we can become Uberized without having to become Uber.” ZOMG. I swear I really heard this at a conference with my own ears. The same keynote speaker also told us to “become comfortable with being out of your comfort zone,” so go figure, right?