What Joni Mitchell might say about cloud computing

A cute white puffy cloud – like the kind you used to draw next to the smiling sun in Kindergarten. But rather than find it on your child’s artwork, these days you’re more likely to see it right smack dab in the middle of an insanely complex technical diagram (the one below is nothing compared to what I saw recently in a client slide deck!). And it’s widely accepted as the universal symbol for all things cloud computing.

Yes, it’s simple. I get it. It’s a cloud. There’s just one little problem. Clouds stink because you can’t see through them. Their mere presence makes the morning commute a little bit longer, and they’re notorious for delaying flights in and out of SFO.

For those in high tech, you’re cursed big time with your own knowledge about cloud computing. You know what happens in that cloud – you can talk all day about leveraging shared capabilities that are self-healing to maximize efficiency and minimize risk, right? Unfortunately for you, the rest of us don’t know that tune. In fact, we’re probably a whole lot more like Dorothy trying to figure out what’s going on behind the curtain.

So, how can you differentiate your message about the cloud (or any technical jargon for that matter)?

First, think about your customers – what’s the number one thing they’re concerned with? What would make them resistant to your idea? Maybe it’s security. For example, why would I (as a CTO) hand over all my precious data to you, and not know exactly what’s happening in that cloud and how it’s being used?

Next, try a dose of Unexpectedness to get your message to be heard – here’s how a recent participant from our Decker Made to Stick program framed her message around the cloud:

When we think of clouds, we typically think of big, white puffy things. The cloud I’m talking about is completely different because you can see through it. It offers the transparency you need to clearly see all the data flowing in and out of the network…

All of a sudden the big benefit of visibility is brought to life because she juxtaposed it right next to our schema of what a cloud is: nebulous, nontransparent and even confusing.

I leave you with a little inspiration and perspective from the great Joni Mitchell and her lyrics to Both Sides Now (my Women in Music professor would be so proud – watch a fabulous performance here). Imagine that your customers view your cloud offering this way…

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.

It’s on you to make sure your customers and even non-technical team members know those clouds inside and out. How else are you going to get them to buy off on that cute white fluffy thing?

We’d love to hear some of your great message successes (technical or not) – send them our way!

*UPDATE: Here’s an awesome plain-spoken explanation on cloud computing from Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal (thanks to our buddies at ServiceSource for the tip!).

The Significance of Storytelling

After writing about Compartmentalized Communicating, I’ve been thinking about how significant storytelling is to the successful communications experience. Nothing makes that human, emotional connection better than authentic, compelling storytelling. It was Hans Rosling‘s brilliant presentation of statistics at TED India that has kept this topic on my mind. As Hans … Continue reading

Video Blog: 1×1 Feedback for Mayor Gavin Newsom

Thank you for all the response on my last video blog! I’m happy to keep them coming, so here we go with a second quick video where I’ll talk about communication in the news. Remember, I also want to give you feedback! Video tape yourself at a meeting or giving … Continue reading

Warren Buffett knows about investing – in yourself

When you see clips like these, it’s easy to understand why Warren Buffett is the man. Now, of course, I LOVE the fact that he acknowledges communications as one of the #1 ways you can increase your human capital and value to your team, company, organization, and even family and … Continue reading

Video Blog: Carrie Prejean on the Today Show

Here’s my first attempt at a video blog! This is hopefully one of many quick videos where I’ll give feedback for communication in the news. I also want to give you feedback! Send me a video of you giving a presentation, doing Q&A, or rehearsing a speech (less than 10 … Continue reading

Are you in the weeds?

We’ve all been there – caught up in the shrinking world of tunnel vision.  But when communicating with others, being in the weeds can lose your audience. Last week I coached two executives, neither of whom had used video feedback before.  In both of these sessions, we addressed the need … Continue reading

A little eye communication goes a long way for WOMM

Last week I wrote on various aspects of eye communication. A couple of experiences prompt me to write again – on how eye communication impacts word of mouth marketing. And how important is word of mouth marketing? 80% of reviews are positive…because people want to share things they enjoy. Known … Continue reading

Grab a mop!

I know.  Another Obama post? Put your politics and feelings about health care and the economy aside to learn a great lesson here. Obama brings ideas to life with his words. He did it again on Tuesday at a rally for Senator Creigh Deeds, Virginia’s democratic candidate for governor. With … Continue reading

Does your message stick?

I’m thrilled to introduce @MeredithGood, one of our newest team members brought on to do program development and marketing.  She’ll be contributing to the blog from now on, starting today! In true Decker form, we videotaped the entire Decker Made To Stick Messaging debut program so we could (what else?) … Continue reading

Master the Art of Telegraphing

Hi all, @kellydecker here… Think telegraphing is outdated? Think again. When’s the last time you got a telegraph? Well, if you’ve interacted with anyone in the last ten minutes – a coworker, friend, boss or even your kids, you definitely got one. And I bet that you sent a couple … Continue reading