One of the nation’s top automotive diagnostic equipment manufactures had a cutting edge engineering staff. They loved to be the first in using new technologies. When touch screen displays were first available, they developed a diagnostic device that auto mechanics could use by simply scrolling through different tests on a touch screen display. The device was thought to be revolutionary, but they forgot one thing. Mechanics have grease on their hands. After just one day, the touch screens could no longer be read. No one had ever talked to mechanics about the new technology before it was designed into the device.
A translator is someone who can connect the needs of the user with those designing a new system, technology, or way of doing business. A translator is a very important person in any business. A translator is someone who needs to be able to talk to a customer and the designer and connect the requirements of the customers with what the designers can provide.
If you want to become proficient as a translator, here are some things you can do:
- Learn how to talk to customers about needs. Many customers don’t know what they need. Ask lots of questions about how they would like to use the technology. Often you will find the original expression of a need is different from what the true need is.
- Learn how to facilitate focus groups. There are a very effective ways to identify customer needs.
- Learn how to use the Quality Function Deployment (QFD). This is a structured tool that shows the connection between what the customer needs and what can be delivered.
- Learn how to translate an unreasonable need into one that can be met. Often you might be able to give the customer something they hadn’t thought of that is more reasonable.
- Learn when to say “no” to a need that is simply not attainable. You will actually gain respect from reasonable customers when you are willing to say no. There is nothing worse than someone who agrees to something you can’t deliver.
There is no official job title called translator, but this is still a very important leadership role for any business.