The following was in response to Mark Hurst’s recent post How to change the CEO’s mind.
UX rarely has power in an org. Often, we must convince those who make decisions that to do what we recommend is beneficial to the company, their teams, and to them as individuals (not necessarily in that order). It’s a permission game. The more permission we are given, the better we are able to do our jobs.
Sometimes we have champions in the org that recognize our value and what we can deliver. Often there are those who at worst know the UX buzzwords and at best aren’t willing to give UX enough of a priority to be effective. Those are the cases where we don’t have much permission to act and can be frustrated at our lack of impact.
In these cases, a more modest approach may be necessary. Each additional bit of value we deliver and can take some amount of credit for will typically give us a little more confidence and permission until we have earned the trust of the one with the power. That can take time. Sometimes a lot of time.
A key decision as practitioners is whether it is possible to change this person’s perspective and if it can be done in a timeframe we are comfortable with in terms of our own growth and career (and whether there are other options available). I’m not saying quit as soon as you hit a wall with a stakeholder. Recognize that change takes time. Recognize that not everyone will change. Decide whether you have the patience to wear down the rock.
That being said, I agree with Mark. The transformations that stakeholders can have from seeing real users interact with their product can be amazing. However, as many commenters pointed out, you need to have permission to first do the testing and then for the stakeholders to trust you enough that they are willing to change their minds based on the test results in order for it to be effective. This is less about the techniques you employ then it is about your relationship with your stakeholders.