The art of listening

One of the first tips I got when entering the workforce was “You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason!”, meaning that in conversations with customers you should spend twice as much time listening as you do talking. Point was to avoid becoming like a radio with only one button: “Send”.

Over the years I learned that above also applies to “new media” such as email, blogging, tweeting and podcasting. You need to use the receive button at least twice as much as the send button. Although less obvious, I am trying to maintain this ratio also as an analyst. Maybe not in every single conversation – our type of analyst inquiries are not like psycho-analysts calls where the analyst just keeps asking the patient repeatedly “and how do you feel about this?” – but overall it still makes sense to allocate substantially more time to input (also from colleagues, peers and even competitors) than to output.

With modern management techniques increasingly focused on managing a workforce that is increasingly spread out and that maintains work hours outside the traditional nine to five, it may – across many industries – feel increasingly difficult for individuals to maintain this balance of input versus output (as only the latter seems to gets measured and formally acknowledged nowadays).

Luckily there is modern technology – like podcasts and RSS feed readers – to help streamline at least parts of the input process. Funny thing is that some of this technology is not that new at all. My first encounter with Gartner’s “podcast avant la lettre” was with the “Talking Technology” series that back then came on “compact cassettes”  (for young readers that may never have seen a cassette – not even in your “my first Sony” –  there is now an iPhone app that emulates the experience). This “Talking Technologies” series still exists (feed here, subscription required), in fact our High Tech and Technology Providers team just participated in the November edition with a segment on  the “4G, the Next frontier for Cellular Networks” special report that describes why 4G matters and what impact it will have on both providers and consumer (Personally I just hope we will use 4G at least as much to receive as to broadcast).

Just like the classic “Talking Technologies” cassette tapes and the subsequent CDs, these podcasts require a subscription. Fairly recently we added to this a series of almost daily Gartner webinars, which are open to all interested parties after a short registration process. You can register for these webinars  here, but to make it even more convenient you can also subscribe to a feed with the upcoming webinars or to a feed with all replays. This Tuesday (November 15th) I will be doing my first contribution to this series. In this webinar, called “The Crowded Cloud”, I will talk about  how many different industry players, including Communication Service Providers, are trying to become the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) of choice for their enterprise customers. Would love to welcome you there.

As you gathered by now the above is part of the 1/3th of  my activities focused on output/sending, but I look forward to balancing that out soon with more personal and more two way communications. Meanwhile please feel free to comment below.

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