Yesterday evening, I was attending the very interesting Service Design Meet Up in London. One of the great things about this meet up is that, after the talks, a couple of people can share some of the issues they are facing in their current job and ask the audience for their advice.

One of the question was around creating a new UX team in an organisation that never had any designer before and where people are working in silos. How to convince them about UX? How to make them work with you? How to prove the value? etc.

It’s a good occasion to share my experience on this topic as I faced similar concerns several times in my career. And I have also learned a lot yesterday. So, here are 10 tips to help you to evangelise UX in your organisation and make other teams work with you.


1- Identify people’s pain points

When a new team is created, it usually means that something has changed in the organisation or in the strategy. And with any change comes some insecurity feelings and some fear of the unknown.

If people are reluctant to work with you, it’s for 3 possible reasons:

  • They are scared of you and they are trying to protect what they have: you might steal some of their responsibilities or territories.
  • You look like another obstacle or another frustration: another person to report to or someone that will complicate even more their complex business process.
  • They don’t see the value, so they don’t see the point of working with you.

You are a UX designer. So apply the same process than with your users: do some research and identify their pain points and your opportunities.


2- Explain how you can help them, not what you do

Don’t try to lecture people about UX, or explain the theory and the process, or try to prove the value. Once you have identified what people are doing, just explain how you can help them. They will see the value of UX for them (not the organisation) and will be more open to interact.


3- Invite people to user research / usability testing sessions

If you are organising face to face user research like usability testing or interviews, invite people to watch the sessions in the room next door.

There are many software you can use to broadcast your session in another room or even remotely. Skype or Google Hangout, for example, are really easy to set up by sharing the screen and using the webcam.

As soon as they see a real users in action, you will win their heart. And they will understand your value and why you are here for.


4- Show and share your research findings and your designs in common areas

At the beginning, it will be difficult to get some time or some attention from other teams. But it’s important to share your findings and your designs. Show that you are super open to share your work.

You have to find a way to capture their interest in some lost moments. Prepare posters, mini videos clips, photos, and so on. Make it look really attractive. And hack the common areas: corridors, chill out rooms, toilets, and so on, and share some snaps of your work.


5- Wow people and make things look sexy

It’s time to shine! Even if it’s not always necessary and not always the most efficient way to work on UX deliverables, be sure to prepare sexy deliverables. You are doing a selling exercise here.

For example, go for visual design and don’t show your wireframes (your audience is not ready). Prepare kick-ass presentations, polish your documents, integrate videos, add some animations and so on.


6- Be a facilitator and make them work together

If people are reluctant to work with you, they are probably also not working with other teams and collaboration is not part of the company culture yet.

Invite people to workshops and start this collaboration process. Pick an easy topic, and organise a small session. Don’t go for a big strategic topic or a long workshop (they won’t come), start simple.

By doing some warm up exercises and by solving problems together, people will be thankful to just interact with other people.


7- Identify your allies

You will find people in other teams that are more open to change. They usually come to ask questions or spend more time in front of your posters. Bingo! These persons are your best allies. They will be easy to convince and they will do the job for you in their own team.


8- Be friendly, not highbrow

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Don’t try to lecture people. Don’t try to convince people that UX is the most important thing to do and what they have been doing so far is wrong (and they are surely not wrong, but just using a different approach).

Well… be nice!


9- Help out

It usually helps a lot to help out. If someone needs some help on something visual, say yes. If, someone needs a sketch, say yes. If someone needs an advice to organise a workshop, say yes.

You will win their trust and become the « go to » person.

BUT, « don’t be the bitch »!
It’s important to find the right balance between helping out and doing all the boring stuff that nobody wants to do.

First rule: it has to be in your area of expertise.

Second rule: « Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day [and he will come back the next day]; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. »

For example, if someone needs some help on the layout of their powerpoint presentation, don’t do it, provide a template. If someone needs some help on a workshop, don’t organise the workshop, work with them on the plan.


10- Install your desk near the coffee machine or invite people for a beer

A little incentive always help! If you’ve already done the 9 other points, being close to people during chill out moments, will help you to stay in the loop. Chit chat at the coffee machine. Or organise « design lunches ». Or invite people for a beer once a month and share your stories.


And you, do you have any advice to share?


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