Collaborating for the users’ sake — Part 2 of 2: Getting to the right decision
Hint: Don’t hold back
One of my favorite quotes I relate to decision-making talks little about it:
“When people purposefully withhold meaning from one another, individually smart people can do collectively stupid things.”
— From the authors of “Crucial Conversations.”
Intentional or not, missing a key person, or failing to present relevant insights upfront prevents making the best decision possible. Do this enough times and no one will be happy where things end up.
In part 1, I talked about a couple communication techniques to address this within a team by creating shared understanding.
For part 2, let’s discuss:
- How to bring in the right people to make a decision
- How to deal with it when you can’t
Who is needed for a decision
In their book, Crucial Conversations, the authors suggest asking these questions to determine who’s needed for a decision:
- Who cares? — Determine who genuinely wants to be involved in the decision along with those who will be affected.
- Who knows? — Identify who has the expertise you need to make the best decision.
- Who must agree? — Think of those whose cooperation you might need in the form of authority or influence in any decisions you might make.
- How many people is it worth involving? — Your goal should be to involve the fewest number of people while still considering the quality of the decision along with the support that people will give it.
If you’re still unable to get these key people into the conversation, then you’ll likely have to present it in some way.
No matter how it’s presented…
Be brief and be gone
“Smart people present to busy people who are constantly flooded with information, are regularly interrupted, are easily distracted, and often grow impatient. Your responsibility is to balance how long it takes to convey a message well enough to cause a person to act on it.”
— Joe McCormack, author of “Brief: Making a bigger impact by saying less.”
As designers, presenting key insights to key decision makers may fail to make an impression, or worse, fail to move them to act. In his book, “Brief”, Joe McCormack he explains…well, how to be brief:
- Strong headline — think like a Journalist
- B: Background or beginning — How am I going to start after the headline?
- R: Reason or relevance — What’s the reason I’m talking to them now?
- I: Information for inclusion — What will the core message include — progress made, still on track, what’s needed?
- E: Ending or conclusion — Provide quick recap, and next steps
- F: Follow-up or questions you expect to be asked or that you might ask — This requires anticipating their questions beforehand
Brutally simple ideas travel lighter and faster so use these tips as a practical way to “respect people’s time like they are running out the door.”
Remember, nothing sells itself
“People can think clearly when they are safe on land. When they are drowning, however, there is only one thing on their mind: finding a life preserver.”
— Joe McCormack
Because the business is constantly trying to move fast, we’ll never have all the information to make the best decision. However, what is in our control is the presentation of what we think will help the users the most.
If you can’t remember these techniques, at least try to remember this:
Bad communication habits:
Good communication habits:
- In plain-language
Whereas the “bad” is focused around you, the “good” is focused on the person you’re speaking to. It takes time and reminders to get this down, but the reward is providing a better outcome for your users.