How Technical is Your Conversation?
3 November, 2021
As a Product Manager, you discuss with organization leaders. While they are technical in a pragmatic sense, they may not have the rigor of the technical details expected of a chief architect of the organization. Here is a story on an analogy-based technical conversation.
I used to work for an organization that used to provide two-factor authentication. One of the senior IT leaders of my customer was surprised to see a 6-digit token generated on a mobile phone could authenticate on a remote server. The system worked without his phone connected to the internet. So he was a bit skeptical if the system was working. Moreover, he wanted all his team to understand how the system worked.
I asked him if I could do a small role play with him. I asked him to change the time on his watch and show me. All his colleagues were not aware of the new reconfigured time. We all left the room. Everyone who knocked on the door for entry, the leader would ask the time. Naturally, no one other than I could answer. So only I could enter his room.
I explained to him, just like he had advanced his watch by 15 minutes which was only known to me, we computed a more elaborate algorithm where the time is taken to generate the 6-digit number. So the number he sees on his device is just another form of asking what time is it?
- The team found the exercise very helpful. We discussed a lot more detailed use cases but they understood overall how the system worked with a simple example than all the cryptographic challenges that lie beneath.
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