What applies to storytelling also applies to the real world, the workplace, and IT: "Don't say it. show it." Take moves: Bad ones are loaded with talk explaining what's happening, what happened or will happen. Good ones show us the action. 

It's true in training, too. A student can hear a dozen times about restoring a backup from tape and come away with a general understanding of the process, but she really learns when she has the GUI in front of her. The GUI provides not only a visual (show it), but a context as well.

It's true in mentoring, where we teach or learn by example. When we're mentored, we learn by watching our mentor's process, whether solving a problem or managing people. Mentors don't lecture, they show us.

So How Does This Apply to IT?

To succeed, we need to talk less and do more. That is, we need to show it, not say it.

  • Rather than complain about the help desk's poor response time, work with them to improve all those things you're complaining about. It's the flip side of complaining. This way you're the agent of change.
  • Resist participating in gossip. Gossip is the height of wasted talk and speculation. I don't think it can completely disappear - as soon as you get three people in a room, you'll have gossip. Stay out of it.
  • Rather than volunteering to create a report on a disaster recovery plan for your IT director, just produce it. It will have a greater impact if you simply create the report than if you announced your intention ahead of time. It also frees you from having to produce it if your workload won't permit it.

Work is doing something. We can talk all we want, but at the end of the day, what have we improved? Talk is as cheaper than ever.

-- Dino Londis