7 Tips To Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendation: #7

Picture of an open window and a blue sky beyondThis 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.


7 Tips To Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #3

person holding a huge stack of reportsThis is the 3nd in a series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations. Tip #1 was: Hide Your Top 3 Recommendations. And Tip #2 was Say “You”, “They”, “Customers”, “Users”, or “Research”. Don’t say “I”. Now for Tip #3. 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 #3: Give Them A Presentation, Don’t Send Them A Report. If you hand someone a printed report with your data and recommendations, or, send them an email with a document attached, it is very likely that your recommendations will not get implemented. A very well written report, being read by someone who wanted to make changes in the first place, MIGHT compel someone to action, but it is highly unlikely. Most of the time you are:

  • asking people to change their opinion and beliefs
  • asking people to take action
  • asking more than one person to change and act

This is a tall order for a word document or powerpoint “report” to accomplish just by sending a document and having people read it. Instead you want to present the recommendations. The most engaging and persuasive way to present your recommendation is in person. If you can’t do it in person then at least be on the phone. The critical elements are:

  • The team needs to be able to hear your voice, and preferably see your face. This is best in “real time” (i.e., not a video or audio recording).
  • You need to be able to see their reactions including facial expressions and body language so you can “read” the situation and know what to do next.
  • If you are in “real time” then you can clear up any misunderstandings. It’s very easy for people to misunderstand a recommendation they are reading in a report.
  • If you are in “real time” then you can discuss a particular recommendation, explain, show an example, and even negotiate.

How many times have you received a report, flipped through the first few pages, and then put it aside? If you want to be sure that people are really listening and considering your recommendations you have to present them.

Many of the recommendations you give will also need a report so that the recommendations are documented. But don’t confuse the report with your presentation. They are two different things. Here are some tips about creating a report:

  • Don’t give or send the report ahead of time. This will weaken your presentation. You can send it after your presentation as documentation.
  • Don’t even hand out the report as you start your presentation. Instead, give your presentation first, and then follow-up later with the written report. Otherwise people aren’t listening to you, they are just looking through the report. If there are things they need to look at while you are talking, examples, etc, then prepare a handout to go with your presentation, but don’t just hand them the report.
  • Finalize the report after the presentation, since things may change as you discuss your recommendations during the presentation.

What do you think? Is this the way you’ve been giving your recommendations?