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You get one shot at credibility as a trusted advisor. This is doubly true for technical professionals. JD Solomon Inc. provides practical solutions.
You get one shot at credibility as a trusted advisor. This is doubly true for technical professionals.

You only get one shot at credibility and trustworthiness in technical communication. Technical professionals who serve as project managers find it dually difficult. The takeaway is that you can blow your credibility in either the realm of soft skills or hard skills. These are a few pointers for avoiding credibility loss with your decision makers.

 

Soft Skills

Be conscious that anything done for the showmanship of public speaking is also a source of noise that distracts from the signal you are transmitting. Keep it simple by focusing on three major areas.


 

1. Colors

Second, black, dark blue, and white are always effective. Black is psychologically associated with finality and can add emphasis when used with grayscale. Dark blue is associated with calmness, credibility, and a business-like approach. White is a great background and great as text on black or blue backgrounds.

 

2. Data and Graphics

the technical credibility of the presentation often depends on producing it. Therefore, the central question is not whether to use a graph for understanding instead of producing data; the central question is whether the graph is needed on top of the data to produce a more concise understanding for the decision maker.

 

3. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. While empathy may not be immediately obvious, these things may indicate that an exhibitor is empathetic (or not).


 

 

Hard Skills

You are either a trusted advisor, a persuader, or a manipulator. If you happen to be one of the latter two, the irony is that you will never tell the decision maker, but they will sense it. Remember that placing you in one of those three categories is the first thing most good decision makers do.

 

1. Your opinion or perspective

Let the decision makers know early in communication your credentials, role in the decision-making process (including possibly how you benefit), conclusions, and underlying perspectives. This quickly gets the receiver past their natural first evaluation steps and removes another potential source that creates noise for your message. It also provides instant credibility. In most cases, it establishes a sense of rapport between you (the sender) and your audience (the receiver), making communication throughout the rest of the presentation easier.

 

2. Providing partial information

Everyone has more data than they can show or share. The issue is whether the data presented is fair or selective to fit a position. Renowned statistician and communications expert Edward Tufte describes "cherry-picking" information as the single biggest threat to credibility.

 

3. Incompetence

Staying on the Edward Tufte theme, incompetence is Tufte’s second biggest threat to credibility. The presenter must be competent, meaning the presenter must demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter and have some level of practical experience. Buzzwords and jargon are no substitute for competence when addressing complex issues in the face of uncertainty. And for that matter, neither is providing partial information.

 

4. Providing citations that reference only a general source

Providing specific citations shows respect for the reader's intelligence and effort, ensuring they can verify and engage with the information presented. In contrast, general citations can lead to mistrust by appearing evasive or deceptive, ultimately undermining the integrity of the work.

 

5. Remember why you are there

In most cases, as a technical professional you are serving as a trusted advisor to a decision maker. Duty-based ethics requires you to tell all sides of the story evenly and fairly.

On the other hand, you may be there to “tow the company line.” You now shift to a persuader (at best) or a manipulator (at worst) of the decision maker. Remember, some jobs are not worth compromising your professional credibility.


Always ask yourself why the decision maker has asked you to advise them. Do your duty honestly and fairly.

 

Project Managers: One Shot at Credibility

You only get one shot at credibility and trustworthiness in technical communication. Technical professionals who serve as project managers find it dually difficult. The takeaway is that you can blow your credibility in either the realm of soft skills or hard skills.


 

 

 

JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for program development, asset management, and facilitation at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. Subscribe for monthly updates related to our firm.


 


Learn more about Generative AI on Wednesday May 22, 2024.  JD Solomon Inc. provides practical solutions.
Learn more about Generative AI on Wednesday May 22, 2024.

With all of the publicity and hype surrounding Generative AI, it is easy to be skeptical, yet at the same time, suffer from “FOMO” (fear of missing out).

 

JD Solomon and Rob Stevens of First Analytics will lead the update of a similar panel they facilitated in 2023. They are joined in this webinar by David Baron of SoCalGas, Kalvin Davies of PwC, and Rosemary Bernal-Gomez of Southern California Edison. The webinar is Wednesday, May 22, 2024, from11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT. Register at the Community of Human and Organizational (CHOLearning) website.

 

This webinar will give a brief overview of Generative AI technologies and their applications.  The presentation format will be followed by a panel discussion from professionals from multiple industries.  They will share their real-world experiences and challenges in implementing these nascent technologies in their organizations.

 

Webinar attendees will learn that, while there is much hype and overstatement of the capabilities of Generative AI, a carefully developed strategy can indeed help move a business forward.


 

Through the continual use of monthly webinars and annual conferences, the Community of Human and Organizational Learning serves as a place encouraging professional growth, open dialog and building resilient organizations. As the workforce continues to proceed into an increasingly virtual world, new formats for dialog and learning will emerge. 


 

JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for program development, asset management, and facilitation solutions at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. Sign-up for monthly updates.


Pre-populate your project risk register with these big seven pitfalls. JD Solomon Inc provides solutions for project development and the environment.
Pre-populate your project risk register with these big seven pitfalls.

Starting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requires diving into a maze of regulations and assessments. An EIS is simply a detailed report evaluating the environmental consequences of a proposed project, but it demands careful attention to avoid missteps. Use these seven reasons that an EIS fails to populate your project risk register. Remember, the golden trio of clear communication, unbiased analysis, and sound documentation will make or break your EIS journey.

 

Why Is An EIS Required to Comply with the National Environment Protect Act (NEPA)?

In answering this question, there's a lot of boring blah, blah. The bottom line is that the process allows the public to provide input, express concerns, and participate in decision making. Trouble comes when things are not as transparent or objective as they should be.

 

#1 Purpose and Need

The "purpose and need" statement in an EIS outlines why a proposed action is being considered and the specific objectives it aims to address. It serves as a foundation for evaluating alternatives and assessing the environmental impacts. The shortfall is usually with adequatekly documenting the need (i.e., infrastructure deficiencies, resource shortages, public safety concerns, or economic development goals).


Tip: Make sure your projections (forecasts) are realistic.

 


#2 Inadequate Stakeholder Engagement

Insufficient consultation with affected communities or other stakeholders can lead to overlooking important concerns or failing to incorporate local knowledge into the decision-making process. Remember, this is a primary driver of the EIS process.


Tip: Do too much, not too little.

 


#3 Biased Analysis

The analysis within the EIS may be influenced by conflicts of interest or political pressures, leading to a biased portrayal of environmental impacts and negative consequences. Political pressures often lead organizations to gravitate toward more cost-effective or easier-to-implement alternatives.


Tip: Avoid buying property or signing contracts that bias one alternative over others.

 


#4 Poor Alternatives Assessment

Failure to adequately evaluate alternative project designs or locations can result in missed opportunities to minimize environmental harm. This is a close cousin to #3 Biased Analysis. This difference is that this shortfall is more the result of narrow thinking or sloppy analysis and less about biased preferences driving the direction of the analysis.


Tip: Use value-based thinking to generate a wide range of alternatives. Remember to anchor the extremes with "status quo" and "do everything."

 


 #5 Inadequate Scope

The scope of the EIS should cover all relevant environmental aspects, such as impacts on biodiversity, air quality, water resources, or human health. The shortfall here is usually not including all the relevant players. Scoping meetings held at the beginning of the process help mitigate this.


Tip: Have a well-developed Purpose and Need Statement developed before you get to the initial scoping meeting. 

 


#6 Poor Data Quality

Insufficient or inaccurate data used in the assessment (including modeling) can undermine the credibility of the EIS. Biased data collection is usually the primary source of the trouble here. Less effort is often placed on assessing alternatives that don't seem as viable as others.


Tip: Use multiple team members to collect data from multiple sources.

 


#7 Weak Mitigation Measures

An EIS identifies environmental impacts that must be mitigated. Those measures must adequately address public concerns and comply with environmental regulations. Normally, this will not break the EIS but instead can significantly slow it down in the final stages.


Tip: Do a little more that required on the larger impacts.


 

Avoid the Big 7 Environmental Impact Statement Pitfalls

An EIS requires paying attention to details. Pre-populate your project risk register with these big seven pitfalls. This article’s tips provide an initial mitigation strategy. Over the course of your journey, lean on clear communication, unbiased analysis, and sound documentation as keys to a successful EIS.

Experts
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