Working effectively across design, engineering, marketing, management, etc.
As a (ROLE) I need to (GOAL) so that (BENEFIT/DESIRE/VALUE).
I'm reading Tom Greever's recent book Articulating Design Decisions, and it gives excellent advice on "how to communicate with stakeholders, keep your sanity, and deliver the best user experience."
My favorite section is Chapter 3 - Understanding Relationships. It delves into how important trusting communication is between stakeholders, and gives excellent advice on how to establish the long-term rapport that one needs to get projects moving.
Putting ourselves in their shoes allows us to see from their perspective and allows us to create some hypotheses about how they see the world and what expectations they have from your relationship. When we develop empathy for our clients and stakeholders (that is, when we do a REALLY good job gathering their personal motivations, preferences, in addition to the business needs) we can better understand priorities. This allows us to put ourselves in the right mindset when we collaborate.
One of the tips he shares is to use the user story technique to empathize with their roles/responsibilities and relationships with your product. Simple storytelling helps people understand needs and workflow requirements toward a collaborative project.
I'm going to steal examples from the book, (O'Reilley media, please don't sue me):
Let's take Developers and Engineers as an example.
Because they value......
- Building it once
- Getting it right the first time
- Minimizing rework or potential bugs
- Efficient code
You should focus on.....
- Communicating all use cases up front
- Maximising value to the most amount of people
- Reusing modular elements like UI
From there, you can start to put together user stories that communicate their lived experience. Let's continue with the engineer example.
As an ENGINEER, I want to UNDERSTAND ALL THE REQUIREMENTS UP FRONT so that I can PLAN MY WORK AND MAXIMIZE MY TIME.
As an ENGINEER, I need to WRITE EFFICIENT AND MAINTAINABLE CODE so that I DONT HAVE TO SPEND TIME FIXING BUGS.
In this case, having use cases and scenarios well-documented up front would greatly benefit their workflow, so prioritize that!
Let's wrap up with more examples:
As a PROJECT MANAGER, I need to ALWAYS BE AWARE OF PROGRESS so that I CAN BUDGET TIME AND RESOURCES.
As a MARKETING MANAGER, I need to INTEGRATE FEEDBACK INTO THE PRODUCT so that I WILL HAVE A PRODUCT THAT SELLS BETTER.
Now that you have concrete user stories that let you know what information is important to your stakeholders, you have the power to change your behaviors to address their needs and expectations from a collaboration with you.
How do you build professional working relationships?