As common wisdom states, software designers and engineers don't have the skills to understand the esoteric nature of business. Fortunately, after years of careful observation, I have determined the key metric that engineers can employee to be successful in business: the Absolutely! Rate. By manipulating the Absolutely! Rate, software designers and engineers can leap the hurdles that separate business and development.
The Absolutely! Rate is the number of times the exclamation Absolutely! is used per minute of business conversation.
If a 60 minute business conversation has an Absolutely! Rate of 0.5, then Absolutely! was used 30 times. Based on my careful observation the optimal Absolutely! Rate of a successful business conversation is 0.33 (+/- 0.01). In practice, the exclamation Absolutely! is used once every 3 minutes.
Successful business people must carefully manipulate the Absolutely! Rate of any conversation, just as successful software designers carefully manipulate if statements and for loops. If the Absolutely! Rate of a conversation becomes too high or too low, transfer of domain knowledge will be hindered.
Manipulating the Absolutely! Rate of a business conversation
Learning to manipulate the Absolutely! Rate of a conversation is vital for engineers to break into business. If you determine the Absolutely! Rate of a business conversation has dropped below the optimal 0.33, you must pro-actively increase the Absolutely! Rate.
Consider the following example:
You are involved in a requirements gathering conversation with an important customer. After 20 minutes, Absolutely! has been used 5 times, yielding a real-time Absolutely! Rate of 0.25, well below the target rate of 0.33. You must take control of the conversation to increase the Absolutely! Rate. Your next response MUST BE Absolutely!
Customer: "Would widget A or B increase the synergies of our international cross functional compliance teams?"
You: "Absolutely! I would consider widget C to maximize your ROI, especially of your concerns in Indonesia"
Absolutely! vs absolutely: Calculating the Absolutely! Rate
It is important to note one subtlety of the Absolutely! Rate. The word "absolutely" must be used in its own sentence as an exclamation to be included in the calculation of the Absolutely! Rate.
Consider the following article title by Joel Spolsky: "The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)." While Joel interjects both the words "absolute" and "absolutely" in the title, neither would count toward the Absolutely! Rate of a business conversation.
Again, "absolutely" must be used as an exclamation in a stand alone sentence. If the title read, "The Minimum Every Software Developer Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets. Absolutely!" the usage would count as one Absolutely! toward the Absolutely! Rate.
"Absolutely" should never be used with a negative modifier. Such usage will yield a conversation a failure. Never use the exclamation "Absolutely not!" in business conversation.
Absolutely! has no meaning
The lack of meaning attached to the exclamation "Absolutely!" in business conversation is the most difficult aspect of the Absolutely! Rate for engineers, who commonly use exacting, scientific language, to grasp. Absolutely! can be used whenever necessary to manipulate the Absolutely! Rate. It can even be used when you disagree.
Reconsider our customer requirements gathering example:
Customer: "We need these features by the end of business in New York on Friday."
You: "Absolutely! Our development staff is on another project and won't be available until the end of the second quarter."
Engineers are often tentative when pro-actively increasing the Absolutely! Rate, since most don't want to commit to absolutes which rarely exist in their domains. Engineers can overcome their apprehension by realizing that Absolutely! has been deprecated for business communication. Its only value is in maintaining an effective cadence in conversation, and the Absolutely! Rate is merely a measure of a conversation's cadence.
Business success is at hand. Absolutely!
Can you bypass the barriers between your company's development and business units? Absolutely! Learning to measure and manipulate the Absolutely! Rate in real-time requires overcoming preconceived notions about the English language, and the meaning of the word "absolutely." But most importantly, it takes practice. Conference calls are an ideal venue to practice your skills. Keep a running tally of the outstanding Absolutely!'s in any conference call and work to pro-actively adjust the Absolutely! Rate to 0.33. Within a few months you will be ready for the real world of face to face business conversation. Absolutely!