IA Summit: Project Touchstones

by Luke Wroblewski March 25, 2007

Jess McMullin discussed ways design teams could engage with business stakeholders as peers (instead of service organizations) in his Project touchstones: how to bridge competing viewpoints and build vision, consensus, and innovation presentation at IA Summit 2007.

  • If you ever work on a team, you encounter questions of different stakeholder interests and where they want the project to go.
  • How do we get people lined up instead of continually putting out fires and not making decisions?
  • We have an opportunity as user experience practitioners to become peers with business.
  • Value Centered Design: working on what creates value for projects and stakeholders. Intersection of business goals & context with human goals & context. We may need more business-centered design.
  • Business centered design: use design methods & tools to understand business needs & context. Go beyond your run-of-the-mill business discovery.
  • Deliverables that define solutions are actually damaging for becoming a peer with business. They put us into a review & approve cycle. There is a power imbalance with review & improve cycle because the reviewer has the power.
  • It is easier to get to shared goals when we work (draw) together with business.
  • Boundary Objects: create a shared reference for people to communicate.
  • We need deliverables that help us define problems together. This enables us to become a peer.
  • Affinity diagrams with clients to parse research notes. Work together to extract patterns.
  • Sketching together with clients. Conversational sketching uses drawing as a prop to discuss “why you drew it that way”.
  • Design the box: work together to create packaging for what project is really about: name, benefits, feature set.
  • Backcasting: working from ideal future states back to your current state. What are the outcomes I need to acheive?
  • 6 principles for moving from solution deliverables to problem deliverables.
    • Codesign: share unpolished deliverables & process
    • Simple: keep activities simple. Should not have to be an expert to participate.
    • Flexible: what you create will mean different things to different people and it should. Understand business and technical implications.
    • Evidence Based: be informed to make sure you are making the right decisions. Can use external quantitative or on the street qualitative research.
    • Surface Agendas: find things that tell us how people really feel.
    • Get People Working Together: need to get people to commit to collaboration.
  • Peel back the layers: to get to real agenda. Ask 5 why’s.
  • Partner, Pilot, and Publicize: partner with influencers and use small pilots to reach larger parts of the organization. Use others to communicate value to higher parts of organization.
  • Have great opportunity to be peers with business. Use the design toolkit to get there.