Over the 350-odd pages of The Da Vinci Code in which our hero professor Robert Langon finds himself embroiled in a plot to uncover deeply hidden secrets about the true nature of Christianity, I discovered a surprising secret of my own: this year’s No. 1 bestseller might actually help IT professionals
do their jobs better.
I’ll leave all the religious questions raised in The Da Vinci Code to theologians, but The Da Vinci Code is particularly ridden with passages in which, during moments of great danger, the lead characters have to listen to mini-history lessons that help them solve various puzzles.
Whether it’s an overview of how the Catholic church was founded, theories about Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings or pagan rituals, these lessons go into the kind of detail only a product marketing manager could appreciate (sometimes you can almost picture the PowerPoint presentations). The weird thing is, the audience never seems to weary of these educational breaks.
They recognize how much they need this information, and they can’t wait to make use of it.
CIOs and IT managers reading The Da Vinci Code may wish users would listen to them with similarly rapt attention, as opposed to flying into a rage every time their desktop freezes up. Of course, what the history buffs in the book are talking about might be a little more gripping than explaining which driver users need to install, but the learned characters in The Da Vinci
Code employ a consistent approach which isn’t a bad model for IT training.
Brown’s learned characters, for example, always show a passion for their area of expertise that is clearly infectious to those around them. Langdon doesn’t scoff at how little others understand the symbolism in the Mona Lisa.
Instead he begins by reminding students what they already know, and leads them through a series of explanations and questions that help them see the logic of a theory. As they do so he and other “”teachers”” are delighted by their audiences’ progress. They chuckle, their eyes frequently glow, and they grow visibly excited as their “”students”” figure things out.
Many IT users, in contrast, complain that IT managers and CIOs either don’t take the time to explain or do so in a bored manner that leaves them feeling trivialized – or just plain dumb.
It’s necessary in a work like The Da Vinci Code that the reader solves the puzzle just slightly more slowly than the characters in the story, but it also gives a good sense of the pace at which people can comfortably learn. Brown’s characters expect that their audience will be confused, and are ready with backup examples and helpful side notes that can solve the necessary riddles. This book does what training courses often ask IT managers to do: bring the complexity down to a level that a child could understand. If these characters can move comfortably between a range of subjects that span 2,000 years of human history, IT managers should be able to help users tackle subjects related to applications they use at work.
Cultivating that attitude in the enterprise would make office life a lot better.