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Lost In Translation

pgriggs February 8, 2011

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Which way?I traveled to Indonesia a couple of years ago and spent two weeks in the city of Jakarta. It was a trip of a lifetime… not one of those lounge-around, soak-up-the-sun, sleep-in-til-10am type of trips. This was more the on-the-go, meet-the-people, and soak-in-the-culture kind!

I have friends who live in the vast city of 23 million and they were our lifelines. We didn’t go ANYWHERE without one of them with us. I’ve traveled to other countries..but this was completely different. I can tell you that those sweet people didn’t know English, much less English with a southern accent. “Hey y’all!” was nowhere be found.

One of the funniest examples of being lost in translation was at lunch one day. It was my turn to pay for lunch and I wanted to pay on my own. My friend told me about how much it should cost and sent me to the counter with all these rupiahs. I was sure I could manage a simple purchase. After a few tries it was evident that the man at the counter and I did not understand each other and I had no idea how much money to hand over.

I was asking in English… he was responding in Indonesian and around and around we went.  My friend finally came and asked if I wanted to just give away all my money He and the restaurant owner spoke several seconds in what I’m sure was fluent Indonesian. My friend took the money out of my hands and there you go… lunch was purchased. I’m sure I looked dumbfounded but happy.

I often think back to that trip… it taught me many, many life lessons..but today it’s about being a little  lost. It happens to the best of us. Here at ACS, I work with a very “techie” crowd and to say the least sometimes when we are in conversations I think, “What language are they speaking?

Do you ever feel that way about the software you interact with? Do you ever say, “This thing doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand it.” If so, you know what it’s to be lost in translation.

Just the other day, in a meeting  I asked for a “simple” search function. Something like: As a group leader, I’d like to find a place for my group to meet. I’d like to choose between someone’s home, a room at the church or a local coffee shop. Sounds pretty simple to me… just let me choose and give me a few options.

All of the sudden the room erupted in all kinds of “techie” talk. All I heard was:

Tech word, tech word, tech word,  dependency injection,  tech word, tech word, increases Cyclomatic Complexity, tech word, tech word, tech word,  service layer, controller, tech word, tech word, refactor….

Now of course, we worked through all of our “lost in translation” issues and came out of the meeting with good ways to move forward. Ways that meet both the technical side and more importantly the user point of view. Our goal is to provide ministry solutions, i.e. “church software” products, that are easy to use and understand. I know on my team, we are passionate about providing them so that our users can really use to reach others for Christ.

Sometimes we have to all step out of our comfort zones and into the minds and hearts of the people who accomplish ministry to know what to build for your ministries. We are working to build relationships with you to know what you need, also we need you to help create these ministry solutions by giving us ongoing feedback, customer discussions, and mock up reviews.

If you would be interested in joining this group, please email me at pam.griggs@acstechnologies.com. We would LOVE to have you!

In the end, both the restaurant owner and my group were happy. He came over and told us how happy he was to have us in his place of business and country and to enjoy our time there (well… in my mind that’s what he said, anyway!)

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