As a user experience designer, asking “why, how and what if” is a mantra that I live by and I think you should too.

I’ve worked with many product teams and have found that the best solutions are always created together. I practice lean UX and design thinking which are both processes that bring many different perspectives into the design and solution creation process. Together you get the unique perspective of everyone on the team and the added benefit of having the automatic “buy-in” of all the members because they were part of creating the solution.

Often, I will find myself as the lead UX of a development team and see opportunities to improve the customer experience which require rethinking the way we build a solution not only from the front-end but also the back-end architecture. There is sometimes resistance to new ideas or teams can be stuck in their usual ways of doing things. If this is the case, then what is the best way to share your idea with the team? How do you get your team to see the problem from your perspective and work together to see if there are new possible solutions?

Note: When asking a lot of questions, always ensure you are coming across as genuine and empathetic. If you do not, you may appear judgemental or challenging. If this happens your team may feel you are against them rather than creating solutions with them. This will limit you and your team’s ability to collaborate and be successful. Be open with your team and express that you are trying to understand the problem and the approach to the proposed solution.

Start by asking a question like, “help me understand why are you doing it this way?”. This question should hopefully open up the conversation to something more exploratory. Someone may respond with a very logical answer, “well, we’ve done it this way before and it’s easier”. So you continue, “how is it easier?”. They will hopefully respond again with the logical reasons for taking this particular direction. Be sure to listen and seek to understand their perspective.

Now that the conversation is open you can inject your new idea and ask, “what if we did this?”. Asking “what if” is a friendly way to get your team to consider a different perspective. There might be resistance, so seek to understand it. It may be that there are very good reasons why you may not be able to do it the way you’ve suggested. You might get a response like, “that won’t work because of this problem”. Dig into the problem with them, ask “what if we removed that problem like this?” and so on… keep asking questions and keep the conversation flowing until everyone understands all the possibilities. It’s important for the whole team to be on the same page including you.

Now you’re cracking. It is possible that as a team, you discover that the original solution was, in fact, the best. Either way, you’ve all won. You understand your teammates and they understand you and you have all joined together on the solution. This is the real achievement in becoming a super productive team and ensuring future success.