Jim, the UX lead at a New York based media network was facing the challenge of taking his company through a full digital revamp.
He had the support of the CEO but the rest of the organization not so much. Content producers, marketing and development teams had other interests.
Existing projects, separate reporting structures and turf protection took priority. The company had to innovate. Fast. But they couldn’t seem to align their interests enough to move the digital initiative forward.
An internal management audit brought up the following issues:
Lack of clarity about the user and how to meet their needs
Lack of alignment on goals and definitions of success
Inconsistent collaboration and teamwork
They didn’t have the UX Mindset.
Many companies and executives have yet to realize that we have gone through a radical transformation. We have entered what futurist Alvin Toffler calls “The Third Wave” — The Information Age.
“Decentralization will occur — new management techniques, new philosophies to challenge the centralist premisses of the Industrial Age.”
-Alvin Toffler, Futurist
Jim knew what he needed to do. But before he could do any of it he needed to change the ‘Fixed Mindset.’
‘Fixed Mindset’ teams believe that their digital initiatives are about technology. Or about the mechanics of monetization. Or about “hip, edgy” design.
A ‘Fixed Mindset’ organization believes that building digital products is a linear process. They believe in having each department toss their work over the fence once they are done and washing their hands.
What they fail to realize is that a digital business is a living, breathing eco- system. That the form and spirit of their business isn’t static. It’s alive.
The 3 pillars of a ‘UX Mindset?’
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Flexibility in Approach
You have to implement systems that adapt with ease to the changing situation. You have to be flexible in the approach. It won’t be a linear process. It will go forward, then back. Then sideways. Then forward.
Empathy for your Users
Go beyond understanding at a cognitive level and really feel how your users feel. Get out of the office and really talk to users. As a bonus do the same for your team. Understanding their needs is also important.
The systems you implement have to be able to adapt continuously to the needs of the users. The system has to be able to design itself. In realtime. I am not talking about the website only. But the way the teams work.
Young UX designers learn a lot of tools and processes in courses and training. But what they don’t learn is how to deal with the people inside the organizations they serve.
They become defensive and reactive. They look down on their stakeholders for not “getting it.” They suffer. Needlessly.
So how do you get your organization to change? How do you get them to shift to a ‘UX Mindset?’
Don’t push process on them.
Instead take the time to listen to all of the key stakeholders and understand their needs. Their hidden objections to change.
Find the others. Every organization will have others that “get it.” You will find them in the process of listening. Form a “council” and start with small “non important” projects or initiatives. Call then “experiments.”
Educate, educate, educate, educate, educate and educate.
You will need to become a master teacher. You will need to become a master communicator. Not of UX Tools but of the ‘UX Mindset’. You will need to share case studies of how other companies have succeeded by having a ‘UX Mindset.’
So here is a question for you; Have you experienced the ‘Fixed Mindset’ at your company? Are you a UX Designer (or other) and have faced the frustration of centralized teams and fixed reporting structures? I want to here from you. Do me a huge favor and share your stories below.