Gartner Blog Network

Dealing with Complexity Requires Coordinated Communications

by Hank Barnes  |  April 30, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

I thought this would be the first week in 6+ years that I did not publish a new post.   I’ve been dealing with a very complex situation in my immediate family that was occupying most of my time–both physical and mental. But, as things are turning around, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the experience and how it relates to my work world. (I apologize if this post rambles a bit).

Source: pixabay on

To put it simply, we were dealing with a situation with a lot of moving parts and confusing information .   To help, a number of experts got involved, both to try to resolve things, but also because it was interesting–not what they see everyday.

As test results came back and paths to resolution were offered, we experienced some highs and lows.   The lows–when the experts weren’t coordinating their communication.   We’d feel like one person told us one path and the next questioned it, either wanting more information or suggesting something different.

They did all this using the language of experts vs. the language of laymen.   We were confused.  And it felt like we were expected to sort through these different ideas ourselves.  Rather than the experts talking amongst themselves to create a cohesive plan and story.

Ultimately, we “forced” a more coordinated approach across the experts.  They were actually very willing to do that, but, living in their own world, they had not made it a priority.   And together, with one specialist taking the lead, they finally figured out what was going on and what to do about it.

Beyond things getting better, this also meant we knew why.  We also discovered other things that we can do to reduce the chances of it happening again.  And, its a “case” for others that may be in that situation.   It was a relief.

While not as dramatic and personally impactful, enterprise buyers are dealing with much of the same thing.   Complex situations, multiple experts (inside and outside the company), conflicting information are all part of their equation. Understanding that, empathizing with that, and finding ways to provide a more coordinated path that considers broad inputs and lays them out in a way that is clear is critical.

One thing that really helped is, after being told what was going on, when I “played back” what I heard.   The specialist confirmed where I was right and where he actually wanted to suggest something additional–after hearing my interpretation.   This could be a great tactic for you–ask your prospect/customer to “play back” what you have shared.

I hope that none of you have to deal with situations like what we faced the last two weeks.    But, if you do, be sure to demand coordinated communications and “play back’ what you are hearing.   I’m convinced it will bring more clarity to complex situations.


Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: go-to-market  product-marketing-impact  

Tags: communications  complexity  coordination  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.