Skip to main content

Lost in Translation: The Perils of Ambiguity in Business Communication

In recent years, I’ve traveled a lot less than I did before the pandemic. One thing this has led to is me seeing processes and practices with fresh eyes. When you travel regularly, the novelty wears off and a sort of ‘autopilot’ kicks in, and a period of not traveling means that everything is less familiar and more open to scrutiny.

I was recently thinking about the questions that are commonly asked when checking in bags before a flight. I can’t even remember if these questions are asked verbally any more, or if there’s some sort of sign or declaration, but there certainly used to be questions such as:


  • “Have you left the bag unattended at any time?”
  • “Did you pack the bag yourself?”


I suspect, like many people, if you were asked these questions a semi-autopilot would kick in and you’d say ‘no’ without thinking. After all, presumably these questions are aimed at catching smugglers or criminals of some other type. The questions almost seem redundant for ‘normal’ people.

Let’s examine one of the questions, as I think some of the patterns here are important for business and business analysis more generally….


What does “unattended” mean?

Let’s take the first question (“have you left the bag unattended?”).  This question is, upon examination, really quite vague.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the actual question airport staff is more specific, but humor me and let’s imagine they ask it in this way.

A first challenge is what the word ‘unattended’ means to one person might be quite different to another.  Take the following situations, do you consider them to mean that the baggage has been left ‘unattended’?


  • You’ve just taken a connecting flight and have had to re-check your bags. Your bags have been handled by baggage handlers, and have been left unattended in the hold of the plane
  • You traveled to the airport by bus. The bags were in the baggage compartment of the bus and you didn’t have access to them during the three hour bus ride. There were several stops along the way where passenger bags were loaded/unloaded. Anyone could have accessed your bag at those times.
  • You drove to the airport. It was a long drive so you stopped for gas and a meal. Your car was parked in a car park for over an hour
  • You traveled as a group in two taxis. Your bag was in the other taxi, accompanied by your friends but not you


It’s tricky, isn’t it? Technically, if you’ve checked your bags into a previous flight, they have been unattended for a period of time. Yet, you’d likely say ‘no’ to this question… because you know that this isn’t a circumstance that actually counts as ‘unattended’.  I suppose as travelers we intuitively know what’s being asked and what matters. Or at least we think we do…

After all, if we were to literally interpret the question “have you left your bag unattended at any time?” then there is no way that ‘no’ would be a valid answer. Of course it’s been left unattended at some times… when it’s in the closet not being used!




Beyond Airports: Why Definitions Matter

You probably don’t work in an airport, so might be wondering why I’m obsessing over the wording of a check-in question. This pattern of ambiguity potentially leading to misunderstandings, confusion or (more usually) people making assumptions is rife in organizations and projects too.

Much like the term ‘unattended’ has ambiguity attached, other seemingly ‘obvious’ terms can be problematic. Take the word ‘customer’, it sounds clear, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’ve even written a requirement or user story which articulates what a customer can do.  Yet even such a simple-sounding word leaves room for ambiguity. For example:


  • Does someone have to have already bought something to be considered a ‘customer’? Or does the term ‘customer’ include prospects/people in the buying pipeline too? Or do there need to be two terms, ‘prospect’ and ‘customer’?
  • If the person paying for a product/service is different from the person using/benefiting from it, which one is the customer? Are they both customers?
  • Is the term used to mean internal as well as external customers?
  • Are there different customer types? Does a requirement or story apply to all types or only some types of customer?


Things can get even more complicated than this. Who is the ‘customer’ of the judicial system, the prison service, and so on. It very much depends on who you ask, which is why it is important to actually ask the question!


Definitions Make For Concise Requirements And Stories

This comes back to a key point that is (sadly) often overlooked: definitions matter. A glossary might not be considered a new or exciting artifact, but it can really help ensure people are on the same page. With a clear and shared understanding of key terms, requirements and stories can be more concise.

A small investment in a shared glossary can save lots of time in the long run. Starting early is the most effective way of doing this. And believe me, if you don’t create one, there will come a point in time where you wish you had!





Don’t Just Break the Mold, Shatter It: Rebel Recipes for the Business Analyst Maverick

Photo by Nik on Unsplash


Picture this: You’re sailing on the vast ocean of the business world, navigating the wild waves of change. As a business analyst, you’re the captain of your ship, and your map? It’s pre-skilling – the compass that keeps you not just afloat but steering ahead of the storm. Gone are the days of up-skilling after the fact or re-skilling in the wake of a career hurricane. We’re talking about getting your sea legs “before” the tides turn. Ready to dive in? Let’s set sail!


Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out?

In the high-speed freeway of today’s business, being market fit isn’t just about keeping pace – it’s about setting the pace. As a business analyst, you’re not just in the driver’s seat; you’re also the navigator, the pit crew, and the spark plug all in one. Your adaptability isn’t just a cool party trick; it’s your bread and butter.

Pre-skilling is like having a crystal ball. It’s about harnessing your inner oracle to forecast the skills of tomorrow and training in them today. You don’t just react to change; you dance with it, two steps ahead, making waves rather than riding them.


 Talent and Skill Development: The Game’s Changing, Are You?

If you think of your career as a video game, pre-skilling is the cheat code that helps you level up “before” the boss fight. The digital domain is like a game that updates overnight – new rules, new players, new goals. Traditional skill development is playing catch-up, but pre-skilling? It’s got you downloading the updates before they even hit the main server.


 Pre-skilling: Not Just Another Buzzword

You see, pre-skilling isn’t a band-aid; it’s a blueprint. It’s not learning to fix a leak; it’s engineering a ship that rides the waves like a pro. It’s the difference between retrofitting your armor mid-battle and showing up with an indestructible suit.




 Sailing the Pre-skilling Seas: How to Do It Right

So, you’re convinced pre-skilling is the way to go. But how do you sail these uncharted waters? Here’s your treasure map:

 1. Potential Over Past Glory

Forget what you were; what you “can be” is the real gold. Cultivate a mindset that treasures soft skills – the ability to learn, adapt, and bounce back like a superhero.

 2. Feedback is Your North Star

Steer by the stars of feedback and career guidance. Have real talks with the crew – managers, mentors, peers – to chart a course that aligns with the future, not just the now.

 3. Broaden the Horizon

Your skill set is an ocean – vast and deep. Don’t swim in the kiddie pool. Dive into new knowledge areas, and you’ll find yourself swimming with the dolphins instead of the goldfish.

 4. Captain Skills

In the AI-cohabited world, leadership is your sword. Sharpen it. Guide your crew with vision, inspire them with your cause, and lead them through the foggy seas of change.

 5. All Hands on Deck for Diversity

Steer clear of the Sirens of sameness. Champion cognitive diversity and inclusive leadership. Different minds on deck make for a robust and innovative ship.

 6. Spyglass on Trends

Keep your spyglass fixed on industry winds and currents. Trend analysis isn’t just fancy talk; it’s how you predict the next big wave and ride it like a pro.

 7. Market Maps for Skills

Use market analysis to spot uncharted islands of opportunity. Customize your skill set to be the first to plant your flag and claim the land.

 8. Bridging Skill Gaps

Perform a gap analysis like you’re checking for leaks. Find where you’re lacking and patch it up before it’s time to face the kraken.

 9. Strategic Pre-skilling

Combine all these tools, and you’ve got yourself a pre-skilling compass that points true north. Use it to not just stay on course but to discover new worlds.


 Conclusion: Charting Your Course to Market Fitness

So, what’s the final word for our intrepid business analysts navigating the shifting sands of the corporate landscape?

The key takeaway is that the art of pre-skilling is not just a strategy; it’s a dynamic, forward-thinking mindset. It’s about embracing the power of foresight and the excitement of what’s yet to come. In a world that’s racing towards an unknown future, pre-skilling is your secret superpower. It’s the equivalent of giving your career a jetpack, where others might settle for a safety net.

Remember, the sea of business is as merciless as it is magnificent. The winds of change are relentless, and the tides of technology wait for no one. By embracing pre-skilling, you become the captain of your destiny, navigating through the gales with grace and gusto.

To thrive as a market-fit business analyst, you must treat change like it’s your best friend. Why? Because it is! Change is the one constant you can rely on to bring you new opportunities, insights, and paths to personal and professional growth. When you pre-skill, you’re not just keeping pace; you’re setting the pace, transforming from a player to a game-changer in your industry.

By investing in pre-skilling, you’re not just enhancing your resume; you’re forging a professional identity that’s as resilient as it is versatile. This identity becomes your brand, signaling to employers and colleagues alike that you’re not only equipped to handle the challenges of today but also the revolutions of tomorrow.

Introduction to the 4 Pillars of Digital Transformation

In the wake of World War I, French Premier Georges Clemenceau advised the French people that “War is too important to be left to the generals”. Paraphrasing his words I would say that “Digital Transformation is too important to be left to the marketing and sales departments”- Why? Because they are infatuated with the client and it is right because it is their main objective and priorities.

While the customer is very important, I will say paramount, I believe the causes of so many pitfalls and failures in the implementation of DT (Digital Transformation) are the obsession of marketing and salespeople on the customer the hyper concentration in the customers disregarding what I believe are the foundation of DT: The Four Pillars of Digital Transformation.

Even before any consideration of the digital part (Software and Hardware) of the DT equation we need to take care of what I call the 4 pillars of Digital Transformation.

  1. Culture
  2. Process and Policies
  3. Data
  4. Security

They exist in a hierarchical cycle so while some overlapping is possible, the same that when you wear your shoes, you first need to put your socks on. In the four pillars, Culture comes first, then Processes, Data and Security.

Following the diagram of The Four Pillars of Digital Transformation:




For marketing and sales, a customer is an external agent, a person that buys the company’s goods (products and services) for the DT practitioner. The concepts should be broader, instead of customer we should think about USERS.

Please, do not read me wrong. The Sales and Marketing people are paramount for the success of your DT but are not the only ones, in my humble opinion. DT is a matter of life and death for your company and if the CEO and all the C-Level are not deeply involved in the DT projects the probability of success is null, zero, nada.

I am using data as a general term because what we call data is often confused with Information and Knowledge, other two important blocks of the ILC, as I explained in my article “Do we know what are Data, Information and Knowledge?” on this website.

In my other model, “The Intelligence Life Cycle” which I used to discover the AI limitations, I explained what Data, Information and Knowledge really are and created a model of the intelligence Life Cycle based on 4 axioms or postulates in the style of the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid’s. I am going to present the ILC and the Limitations of AI at the PMBA Conference in Orlando next year.

Data is not the New Oil as the hyper propaganda instigated by the media and some data scientists in search of fame, support and money claim, and as you can see from the above diagram, occupied a 3rd position in importance.

You can get more details by watching my 4 Pillars of the Digital Transformation at the Virtual BA and PM conference in Dec this year.

Do we understand what Data, Information, and Knowledge are?

“Data is everywhere, but it requires CONTEXT and accessibility to be useful…”

 This compelling statement by Symphony Logic immediately caught my attention. It resonates with my model of “The Intelligence Life Cycle,” whose first axiom, or postulate, is “Data is measured in context”—a notion that I expanded upon with my second axiom, “Information is organized data with a purpose.”

At first glance, it might seem trivial, but currently, there’s significant confusion in the semantics, ontology, and taxonomy of the three terms that form the building blocks of Intelligence.

Data, Information, and Knowledge are often used interchangeably as though they are synonymous, but they’re not. This confusion compromises the quality and analysis of our data.


The Delphi study titled “Knowledge Map of Information Science,” conducted between 2003 and 2005 sought to explore the foundational elements of Information Science. 130 definitions of data, information, and knowledge are documented in this study. The international panel consisted of 57 leading scholars from 16 countries, representing (almost) all the major subfields and essential aspects of the field.

Working with 130 different definitions for terms as vital as DATA, INFORMATION, and KNOWLEDGE seems excessive, and rather than providing clarity, it obscures and leads to confusion.

Therefore, I took it upon myself to find or create simple yet accurate definitions for these pivotal terms using an axiomatic approach, similar to the one used by Euclid in his fundamentals of Geometry.

Axiom 1: Data are measured in context.

Axiom 2: Information is organized data with a purpose.

Axiom 3: Knowledge is the discovery of patterns and their relationships.

Axiom 4: Wisdom is the effective use of knowledge. As Professor Drucker put it, effectiveness is doing the right thing, as opposed to efficiency, which is doing things right.

Fortunately, I did not need to introduce a fifth axiom.




I applied these axioms to develop a model that I call The Intelligence Life Cycle, which has helped me identify the limitations of AI and numerous pitfalls in Big Data models and architectures. I presented my theory about the ILC in July 2023 at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida during a presentation titled “The Intelligence Life Cycle and the Limitations of AI” at the SQL Saturday event.

More recently, I also spoke at USF during DevFest to a select audience about the ILC and the Limitations of AI, and I introduced my other model, “The 4 Pillars of Digital Transformation.” Here, I argued that Data is not the new oil nor the first block of importance; instead, it is a third-level block in a hierarchy of importance, preceded by the Cultural and Procedures and Policies Pillars.

You can learn more about The Intelligence Life Cycle and Limitations of AI in my LinkedIn article.

Efficiency and Excellence: The Strategic Advantages of Outsourcing in Web Design and Recruitment

These days the convergence of web design prowess and strategic recruitment methodologies assumes paramount significance. Nowadays, it is of utmost importance that strategic recruitment tactics and design expertise are combined. Understanding outsourcing’s varied applications in the fields of design and recruitment is essential in the current outsourcing structure. In order to highlight its strategic importance, this article provides an in-depth review of outsource web design services.


The Significance of Design

A strong digital presence has undeniable relevance in the present company environment. The mindful art of web design has an unbreakable connection to this significance. Such design arranges user engagement, smooth interaction, and the aligning of brand identity without relying solely on surface aesthetics. The design emerges as a crucial tool for capturing and turning transitory digital fingerprints into permanent support in a time when attention spans are known to be short.

Pursuing the Pathway to Design Proficiency

It takes a combination of technical skills, artistic expertise, and programming knowledge to become an expert designer. Prospective designers would be well advised to set out on a planned route that includes the following checkpoints:


Foundational mastery. Achieving expertise in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript — the key web development languages.


Artistic insight. Immersion in color theory, typographical principles, and layout design strategies.


UI/UX proficiency. Gaining knowledge of user interface and user experience concepts to create interfaces with an intuitive design.


Tool competence. Familiarization with industry-standard design tools, including Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch.


Curation of portfolio. Assembling a strong portfolio with a variety of projects to demonstrate one’s creative ability and technical skill.


The Multifaceted Role of a Designer: Confluence of Creativity and Code

A designer’s job goes beyond simple aesthetics in the complex world of digital architecture. It’s a harmonious combination of technical proficiency and creative ingenuity that creates engaging online experiences. The various responsibilities that make up this diverse position are similar to the expertly intertwined tapestry-like threads that produce a work of art that is both useful and beautiful.


A skill set serves as both a palette of creative inspiration and a toolbox of expertise within this mosaic of duties. In this case, the combination of creativity and coding produces an interactive ecosystem that appeals to end consumers and captures the spirit of a brand.


Each aspect of this position works together to provide a smooth user experience. Every pixel and interaction on a website, from the first glance at the layout to the finer points of color psychology, bear the imprint of a designer’s choices.


Indispensable Competencies for Web Designers: Synthesis of Skills

Source: Eftakher Alam. Unsplash


The focus is on the dynamic blending of creative originality and technical accuracy. The precise coordination of talents that effortlessly combine into an exclusive and broad skill set is necessary for the profession of creating compelling digital landscapes. These skills act as the foundation upon which the digital world is built, shaping it into an interesting, understandable, and visually appealing space.


  • The capability to transcend conventional design paradigms.
  • A commitment to intricacy akin to micro-architecture.
  • Proficiency in navigating the ever-evolving currents of design trends.
  • Effective communication. The ability to interpret client aspirations and articulate design concepts.
  • Problem-solving proficiency. Agility in addressing intricate coding conundrums.




Deciphering Distinctions between Designs

The basis on which digital experiences are built is the interaction of UI/UX design, web design, and graphic design. Exploring these fields’ intricacies reveals a rich mosaic of originality, usability, and visual communication.



Decoding the Dynamics of Outsourcing

When used in the field of web design, outsourcing—a paradigm inherently linked to maximizing operational efficacy—evolves into a strategic concept. Scalability, increased effectiveness, and the enlargement of creative views all highlight this shift. Outsourcing becomes a virtual hub of specialized knowledge, enabling the acquisition of unrivaled design quality that is not restricted by physical boundaries.


Strategic Vistas for Design Outsourcing

Outsourcing web design offers a range of strategic benefits that go beyond the typical cost-efficiency boundaries and drive firms toward increased efficiency, amplified creativity, and the freedom from geographical limitations. The review of outsourcing reveals an expansive field of possibilities where the lines of strategy meet the blank slate of design.


  • Incubation of startups. Fueling nascent ventures with superlative designs devoid of exorbitant expenditures.
  • Surge management. Mitigating design inundations, ensuring project continuity and client contentment.
  • Cultural infusion. Infusing designs with cross-cultural nuances to enhance global resonance.
  • Project-based endeavors. Streamlining one-off projects with specialized design interventions.
  • Strategic focus enhancement. Delegating design responsibilities to concentrate on core business competencies.


Navigating the Landscape of an Outsourced Web Designer

Outsourced designers now serve as virtual partners and channels for digital manifestations, transcending the limitations of geography. The following is the course of the collaborative work: project briefing as the starting point, then prototypes and wireframes created by the designer. The realization of a design corpus, symbolic of a harmonious combination of vision and competence, results from the iterative feedback loop that follows.


Gazing Ahead

In the midst of technology’s unrelenting advance, web design’s direction is ready to change. The position of the designer changes into that of an experienced architect with the integration of AI-driven design tools and immersive technologies like AR and VR. Websites will evolve from being simple digital pages into immersive spaces that blur the line between the physical and digital worlds.



Outsourcing has a lasting reputation as a source of innovation and efficiency in modern digital business. The profession of web design propels businesses toward virtual prominence through the fusion of technical skill and artistic talent. The client and outsourced designer’s cooperation takes the form of a dynamic tapestry of ideation, execution, and realization. The possibilities of design and recruiting outsourcing beckon. Here is a field where strategy and creativity come together to create a work of digital triumph.