Nobody Cares: Why your project needs stakeholder buy-in

In The Content Strategy Toolkit, Meghan Casey states:

“…implementing a content strategy requires a change in the way people think about and do their jobs.”

No matter how forward-thinking a company is, a new idea will gain resistance at best and apathy at worst. Stakeholder buy-in requires a political approach, tailored to the various parties involved. The design lead and their team may have a clear vision of the benefits their undertaking will bring, but supporting/auxiliary parties must be convinced. The first step in crafting a tailored approach is understanding who the stakeholders are and what their role is in relation to the design project or organization.

For example, consider a financial management platform for a mid-sized business. While the office administrator may not directly use the software, they may review reports and content generated from the system. Therefore, improvements to the interface would not prove as compelling an argument as suggesting that the revised report output would cut down on time spent reviewing and shorten the time required to release accurate invoices to clients.

In the HBR.org article, “Failing by Design,” the author relays a story of how her boss gained support for a new initiative. McGrath writes:

“…the data in the old system had become corrupted. I leaped into action, determined to save the day. But after I ran my plan past my boss, he quietly said, “Don’t do any of that. Sometimes things have to fall apart before anybody musters the will to fix them.” He was absolutely right. The failure of the old system created a compelling argument for the new one and was a turning point in gaining support.

To increase the value of the process, it is critical to gather stakeholder input before finalizing a design strategy. According to Brandpoint:

Communicating your ideas by asking someone for their input generally goes further than simply telling someone what you want to do.

Early and open involvement is a key facet of stakeholder engagement. People are more invested in a process where they feel their opinion matters. This is a basic tenet of user-centric design that applies beyond the final audience to the greater team at work around the development of a product.

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