25 Mantras of UX stakeholder collaboration
Managing stakeholders is vital in UX and service design. Engaging effectively builds trust, buy-in, and cultural currency. But learning to handle stakeholder dynamics skillfully is an ongoing process. Why? Team dynamics, even within the same company, can be radically different. However, since stakeholders share similar characteristics, a playbook can be devised to give stakeholders an excellent experience with your UX work. Frank Spillers will reveal the playbook in this month’s UX Inner Circle Masterclass.
Read more about Why UX requires Stakeholder Collaboration
1. Kill the Silos
Eliminating silos in UX design significantly improves decision-making. When silos are present, information and expertise are isolated within teams, hindering comprehensive decision-making and cross-pollination. However, a more holistic and shared perspective is taken when these barriers are removed. Moreover, it fosters a culture of shared goals and mutual understanding, which is crucial for successful design outcomes.
2. You Are Not the User
The principle “You are not the user” highlights a crucial aspect of UX design: designers’ preferences and experiences may not represent the users’. This mindset pushes for research and evidence-based design, ensuring designs meet actual user needs, not assumed ones. By prioritizing Field Studies and user testing, designs become more desirable and user-friendly, avoiding the pitfalls of designer bias.
3. UX First, Then Figma
“UX First, then Figma” emphasizes prioritizing UX research and strategy before diving into design tools like Figma. This approach ensures that design decisions are grounded in user needs and behavioral insights rather than aesthetic choices alone. By first understanding the user journey and pain points, designers can create more effective, intuitive designs in Figma, leading to better user satisfaction and engagement.
4. Talk Without Boundaries
“Talk without Boundaries” in UX design encourages open, unrestricted communication among team members and stakeholders. This approach breaks down hierarchical barriers, fostering a collaborative environment where all ideas are valued. Such uninhibited dialogue leads to better problem-finding, where cohesive teams collectively have “a-ha” moments. Serving our customers in UX and Service Design requires a boundary-free mindset.
5. Lead by Facilitation
“Lead by Facilitation” in UX emphasizes guiding teams through collaborative processes rather than dictating decisions. This leadership style promotes active listening and inclusive discussions, ensuring all voices are heard and considered. UX Leads can manage stakeholders and build a more collaborative experience using UX Facilitation skills.
6. Just Test It
“Just Test It” in UX design emphasizes actively validating designs with user testing. Early and frequent testing gathers essential user feedback, guiding crucial design improvements. Testing prototypes with real users challenges assumptions and refines designs, ensuring they meet user needs effectively, resulting in more successful user experiences.
7. Frame Research Right
“Framing Research Right” ensures that User Research approaches the Problem Space bias-informed. By clearly surfacing bias and values, research problems are more apparent. Using Insight Sprints, for example, problem-framing guides stakeholders toward what matters most to users– not just the business. Note: The tip below comes from UX Pioneer Brenda Laurel.
8. Go Below Surface Context
“Go Below Surface Context” in UX delves deep into understanding the user and their task environment. This context of use is likely the most important thing you need in UX, ever.
Understanding context of use involves exploring beyond basic needs, and uncovering the subtleties of user behavior and task context. By thoroughly understanding these elements, designs can more accurately address real-world use, leading to more intuitive and engaging user experiences.
9. Know Your Role
“Know Your Role” in UX emphasizes understanding specific responsibilities and contributions within a team. This clarity ensures efficient workflow and collaboration as each member brings their value. By defining and understanding the role of UX in your job, you’ll gain more. Also, UX teams can better perform their full job duties— instead of just the ones stakeholders think they should perform.
10. Always Be Evangelizing UX
“Always Be Evangelizing UX” stresses the continuous promotion of UX importance across all organizational levels. This mindset involves advocating for user-centric design principles and educating others about UX’s impact. By consistently championing UX, teams foster an environment where user needs are a central focus, leading to more effective and engaging products. It also allows UX to build capacity, such as extracting triple value from UX.
11. Be a Strong User Advocate
“Be a Strong User Advocate” in UX calls for consistently prioritizing and defending user needs and perspectives. This role involves being the voice for users, ensuring their experiences and challenges are central in design decisions. By advocating strongly for users, or “User Advocacy,” designers ensure that products are functional and truly resonate with and meet the needs of their intended audience.
12. Never Assume
“Never Assume” in UX emphasizes the importance of basing decisions on research and evidence, not assumptions. This approach requires continuous user engagement and data analysis to understand their needs and behaviors. By avoiding assumptions, UX design remains grounded in reality, leading to solutions that effectively address real user problems.
13. Thinking in Systems
“Thinking in Systems” in UX involves seeing the bigger picture. This involves Systems Thinking. See: Systems Thinking cheat sheet…
Systems thinking means you take a more expansive view of how each user/business/design issue or influence overlaps, relies on or affects other entities. It’s vital to consider a triple ecosystem view: business, system, and user. This approach requires considering user interfaces or services as standalone elements and parts of interconnected systems. By adopting this mindset, designers mitigate risk, harm, or unseen consequences.
14. Ask Why 5X
“Ask Why 5x” in UX leverages the 5 Whys technique to understand user problems and motivations deeply. This method involves repeatedly asking ‘why’ to each answer, peeling back layers to reach the root cause of issues. This technique gives teams deeper insights, leading to more targeted and practical design solutions.
15. Build Bridges
Building bridges in UX emphasizes creating connections between diverse teams, stakeholders, and users. This collaboration up-front approach gives UX teams better stakeholder management. By building these bridges, UX professionals can get dialogue going while helping educate stakeholders just-in-time.
16. UX as a Team Sport
“UX as a Team Sport” highlights the collaborative nature of user experience design. It stresses the importance of involving various team members, each bringing unique skills and perspectives. This collaborative approach ensures comprehensive solutions that address a wide range of user needs and preferences, creating a more inclusive and effective design process.
17. Put the User Needs First
“Put the User Needs First” in UX prioritizes understanding and addressing the actual needs of users above all else. This approach ensures designs are aesthetically pleasing, genuinely helpful, and relevant to the user’s life. By centering on user needs, UX design achieves more meaningful and impactful solutions. The updated User Bill of Rights by Frank Spillers captures the useful attitudes.
18. Remember the Business Case
19. Level-Set the Lingo
“Level-Set the Lingo” in UX emphasizes establishing a common language among team members and stakeholders. This approach ensures clear communication and understanding, particularly when discussing complex UX/ Service Design or technical concepts. By aligning on terminology, teams can work more effectively and avoid misunderstandings, leading to more successful project interactions.
20. Get Process Alignment
“Get Process Alignment” in UX focuses on synchronizing methods and workflows among team members. This approach ensures everyone follows a unified process, enhancing efficiency and clarity. By aligning processes, teams can avoid duplication of efforts and inconsistencies, leading to smoother project execution and more cohesive UX designs.
21. Redesign Process
Redesigning your process in UX involves critically reevaluating and updating existing design workflows and practices. This approach aims to optimize efficiency, adapt to new challenges, and get UX to deliver the value it ought to deliver. By continually refining your process, UX teams stay agile and innovative, ensuring their methods align with evolving user needs and industry standards, such as DesignOps and ResearchOps.
22. Avoid Dogma, Arrogance, Negativity Bias
23. Know When to Break UX Rules
“Know When to Break UX Rules” emphasizes the importance of flexibility and being intentional with best practices. For example, consistency in interface design is an important rule. However, there is a case for and against Interface Consistency…
It acknowledges that while guidelines are valuable, there are instances where deviating can lead to innovative solutions. Understanding when to bend or break these rules can result in more tailored, compelling user experiences.
24. Teach Through Insight
“Teach Through Insight” in UX involves using Insight Sprints or socializing user findings to stakeholders- not just keeping them to yourself. This approach emphasizes educating teams and stakeholders with direct, actionable insights from user research. Presenting findings clearly and engagingly ensures that user data drives design decisions and strategy, enhancing the overall impact of UX work.
25. Make Shared Decisions
“Make Shared Decisions” in UX highlights the importance of collaborative decision-making. This approach involves team members and stakeholders in deciding through a partnership model. By making decisions together, the team ensures that solutions are well-rounded, user-centric, and have broader buy-in, leading to more effective UX decisions for customers and end-users.
Enjoy that? Share it and Join Frank Spillers UX management book- beta reading list
Join this Jan. 10th Masterclass: Managing Stakeholders for UX