• J.D. Solomon

Communicating with FINESSE: Getting the Boss’s Boss to Understand


The critical issue is a technical professional's inability to communicate to decision makers in the face of complexity and uncertainty. The FINESSE fishbone diagram says "complexity and uncertainty" to soften the blow because there is no reason to pour salt in the wound. After all, technical professionals went into technical fields because they are not good natural communicators. Just ask their parents or siblings.


The FINESSE fishbone diagram gives us seven dimensions that lead to effective communication in the face of complexity and uncertainty – Framing, Illustrations, Noise Reduction, Empathy, Structure, Synergy, and Ethics. The devil is in the details, nuances, and subtleties when you learn to communicate with FINESSE.


Blasting Into 2022

Nearly a decade after asking technical professionals what they need most, the answer is still “help me to get my boss’s boss to understand.” I have now presented this topic as keynote addresses, webinars, lunch-and-learns, half-day or full-day workshops in corporate and conference settings. Getting the Boss’s Boss to Understand is far and away my most requested training topic. As a fundraiser in conjunction with professional conferences, it is always a moneymaker for the host organization.

FINESSE is a product of the pandemic. Rewind to 2019 and my intention to do the book's second edition in June 2020, three years after the book's June 2017 release. Starting a new business in December 2019, followed by the pandemic a few months later, slowed progress. An eight-month stint as an interim Town Manager in August 2020 while keeping JD Solomon Inc meeting its contract obligations killed all progress on the second edition. However, that period allowed FINESSE to ripen.


Webinars and a couple of conferences in 2021 have provided a quiet roll-out of the FINESSE fishbone diagram and checklist. A couple of upcoming corporate and conference engagements, along with the release of the second edition of the book, will provide a powerful, official launch in 2022.


What’s New

The book was a byproduct of not being able to cover all of the material in half-day and shorter formats. The FINESSE fishbone diagram is a more concise, punchier presentation format for the shorter sessions. It turns out that the FINESSE fishbone diagram is also a great, new format for the full-day training workshops.


The FINESSE checklist is also a more concise summary of the essentials when preparing to address that big problem full of complexity and uncertainty. We had the checklist at the time of the first edition but decided not to put it in the book. It is improved now.


A new chapter for the bosses will be included in the second edition of the book. This chapter will provide guidance on how to get your staff to understand. It is a byproduct of many requests from decision makers who attended the workshops to help them be more active in the process. Reversing the role by emphasizing the receiver, rather than the sender. is more difficult than it first sounds. The first draft is already an interesting chapter, and a couple of engagements with it in the first quarter of 2022 will make it even sharper by the summer.


Finding the Niche

Most of my long-time colleagues know that training technical professionals to communicate with decision makers was not one of my professional goals. I now make some money doing it, but it is still not one of my primary sources of revenue.


Most people do not find a popular niche.


Sometimes you find the niche. Sometimes the niche finds you. Either way, you just run with it. Here’s to Communicating to Decision Makers, Getting the Boss’s Boss to Understand, and Communicating with FINESSE. Here’s to everybody doing it. Here's to more good things in 2022!


Eight-hour workshops in corporate settings are usually performed in an afternoon and morning format. Teams typically apply the approach to one of their real-world issues which enhances the learning experience and provides a valuable take-away for the time invested. Contact us for more information on Getting the Boss's Boss to Understand training workshops.