Product Design Consulting: Achieving Stakeholders Agreement (No Step Back)

Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent. — JIMMY CARTER

Inside the previous article Product Design Consulting: Tools for Stakeholders Persuasion, we have covered several tactics for forming your response as well as some of the most common ways that we can respond to design feedback.

If we combine all of these practices together, we can see how this will form the basis for a standard response to stakeholders that establishes a formula for success.

For UX discussions, I want to suggest you a useful formula to help you make your case to Stakeholders without going back (hopefully). Read below.

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Identify the problem
We must always remain focused and ensure that our stakeholders are aware of the problem we’re addressing; otherwise, the conversation can quickly become counterproductive. Very briefly state the problem that your design addresses for the purpose of getting everyone on the same page.

Describe your solution
This is where your specific design can be connected to the problem that you’re trying to solve. Make a clear connection between what you did and how it addresses the issue. Without a clear solution, the design is useless and ineffective.

Empathise with the user
Stakeholders can forget about the people at the other end of our products. Our job is to represent them, to feel so burdened for them that we’re driven to action. State how your solution solves the problem for a specific user by calling to mind the people at the center of your design process.

Appeal to the business
It’s not enough to just fix stuff. All our decisions must be motivated in part by a need to grow the business or organisation. This is where you describe how your decisions are meant to affect goals, metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs). Bring it up, tie them and show value.

Lock in agreement
After clearly making your case, directly ask for agreement from your stakeholders. You don’t want to leave this conversation open ended, without resolution. Ask them directly, “Do you agree?” Put them in a position of needing to respond to you, and keep the project moving forward.

Formal agreement
To get agreement, you need to directly ask your stakeholders for their buy-in. The simplest way is to ask:

“Do you agree?”

Put them in a position of needing to respond to you before you move on. Further, it should be clear that you’re asking them for a specific response (agreement) and that you expect an answer.

It’s easy for a design discussion to casually devolve into a handful of random ideas until eventually the conversation feels like it should move on. However, if you don’t have agreement yet, do not let the team move to the next item on the agenda. You need to be the one who pauses the chatter long enough to say:

“Before we move on, are we all in agreement?”

Getting that verbal confirmation is important to make sure this item doesn’t come up again during the next meeting because someone forgot what was decided.

If you have any questions or want to know more about me, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Product Designer @ ThoughtWorks Brasil

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