When blogging as a member of the ASQ Influential Voices team I begin by saying ASQ CEO Paul Borawski in his blog A View from the Q asked the question...so staying true to form...Paul asks: Do you speak the “language of business”? How important is it, in your experience?
Let's start with the language of business...
I've been hearing this discussion about the language of business since I started as a quality professional back in the days of enlightenment...the 1980's. I'm sure the discussion was not new then. So why are we still trying to encourage our quality professionals to speak this languauge...shouldn't this be motherhood and apple pie by now? The reason we need to keep selling the business speak is that our Engineering schools are still failing us. As an Engineering student I was required to take a course called Engineering Economics. It was a senior year requirement and basically taught about break-even points. No other required course in my Engineering program discussed Business, Money, Costs, Expenses, Income, Revenue, or any other language of business. I did take Accounting as an elective so I was a bit ahead of the curve. Still neither course mentioned touched on Business speak...Failure STEM!
How important is it in my experience?
Try to solicit funding in your organization for simple quality tools like QMS software, new test equipment, SPC software, or even new furniture without a cost justification, an ROI or details of all the expenses associated with training and installation and see how far you get. Even preparing a simple expense report for business travel requires a simple understanding of business speak. Again, without basic training in the language of business, we as Quality professionals will fail...yet another failure of STEM, in my opinion.
Sure, Engineering students have among the heaviest course loads in any college or university yet we fail to teach them what they really need to know for success...change the requirements for Engineering programs to include Business 101, Business Law and basic Accounting 101. Once this is done there will be no need for this discussion of speaking the language of business.