In the 1970’s, a car company marketed their new hot vehicle, called the Nova, in Spanish speaking countries.
Widely successful in other regions, the Nova was expected to do equally as well. Unfortunately, sales tanked and the Nova became a disaster. Why didn’t anyone from Spanish speaking countries jump at the chance to buy a brand new, redesigned Nova? The car company failed to realize that Nova meant “no-go” in Spanish.
Communication is crucially important in making sure information does not get lost in translation. When a Business Analyst gives a set of requirements, user stories, etc to developers, the business analysts need to make sure what they are delivering communicates the information completely and unambiguously.
Let us explore the problem of communicating incompletely and ambiguously. Take this scenario for example: I want you to draw a boat. I’m 100% certain that you probably drew your interpretation of what a boat is. Maybe you thought that I wanted you to draw a sailboat, though I really meant for you to draw a toy boat. If I communicated completely and unambiguously, you would have been able to draw a toy boat.
We cannot always guarantee that we will communicate successfully. Many times, we have to ask the right questions to make sure that the communicator is articulating all of his ideas. By navigating through what the speaker says, we can ultimately find what he means through these questions. For instance: I want you to build a house. What are some questions that you might want to ask me?
1) What type of house do you want me to build?
2) How big of a house do you want me to build?
3) How many restrooms do you want and on what floors?
Initially, you would have had no idea what to really build outside of your own personal interpretation of what type of house I want you to build. By asking the right questions, you can help the communicator become unambiguous and complete in terms of what he wants you to do.
In summary, it is important for us to make sure that information does not get lost through interpretation and that we are absolutely certain that the information that is communicated is what is intended.