This is the 7th post in a 7-part series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations.
Tip #1 was: Hide Your Top 3 Recommendations
Tip #2 was Say “You”, “They”, “Customers”, “Users”, or “Research”. Don’t say “I”
Tip #3 was Give Them A Presentation, Don’t Send Them A Report
Tip #4 was Use The Word “Because” And Give A Reason
Tip #5 was Add research or statistics to bolster your recommendations
Tip #6 was Point out the consequences of the Status Quo
Now for the last Tip #7. The context is that you want to see your recommendations implemented. How can you present them to a team so that they will be acted on and not dismissed?
Tip #7 — Tie your recommendations to the viewpoint of others. We all view the world from our own particular vantage point, or window. And we sometimes forget that other people are looking at the world from their own window. I know it sounds obvious to say that what you think is important might not be important to other people, but I think we often forget the differences among viewpoint.If you want people to act, then you are going to have to phrase your recommendations and requests in a way that resonates with their larger motivations and goals.
For example, let’s say that one of your recommendations you are making to the team is: “The visitors to the site don’t understand the information architecture we are using in the navigation bar. We should change the categories of information and the labels so that it matches the visitors’ mental model.” You’ve interviewed and conducted usability studies with visitors to the site, and you know this is true. It seems obvious to you that the information architecture and navigation bar should be changed. But what is obvious to you is not necessarily obvious to your team. You are thinking about the meetings you’ve had with the visitors, and you can see a better navigation bar and information architecture in your mind. Other people on the team see deadlines being missed, or a navigation bar that they designed and they think makes perfect sense.
Breakthrough the impasse by seeing out their window — In order to phrase your recommendation in a way that will be acted upon, you’ve got to see out their window and rephrase your recommendation and request. Perhaps the team leader is concerned about what his boss will think if he has to tell her that they are delaying the launch of the new website. In that case you might want to rephrase your recommendation to: “We want to nail the information architecture before we release the new website. If we aren’t sure the architecture matches the visitors’ mental model, then we’ll have to change the navigation bar later, and that will take a lot of resources. I’ve done some user research and if we make some changes now, we’ll save xx hours of re-programming time later.”
Knowing others’ point of view isn’t easy:
a) you may not know their motivations and goals
b) you may think you know their motivations and goals, but you are likely to be incorrect
c) there are multiple people, and they may have different motivations and goals
d) the people involved may not even know their own motivations and goals
So how can you make sure you are tying your recommendations and requests in with their goals and motivations?
Here are some suggestions:
- Take your time. Don’t rush into presenting your recommendations. Take some time to talk to team members so you get a feel of what is driving them.
- Don’t make assumptions. Validate your assumptions about the team members goals and motivations.
- Pick one influential person on the team and talk to them so you at least know what is important to that person.
- Imagine you are that person and look through that window. Then reframe and rephrase your recommendations to speak to that point of view.
This concludes the 7 part series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations. Let me know which ones you try and how it works out.