IA Summit 2012 Notes: Empower yourself. Negotiate for the user.

This is part of a series of notes from the Information Architecture Summit from 2012. All posts will be tagged ias12. This talk was presented by Carol Smith (@carologic on Twitter). The slides are available on Slideshare.

  • Even if you have the best design you won't get a good user experience if you can't negotiate and get it to happen
  • You need need confidence in negotiation, and the best way to get it is to have a Best Alternative To Negotiation Agreement (BATNA): knowing what your course of action will be if negotiation fails (not the same as a walk-away point) gives you
    • a standard to measure negotiated options against and determine if you have something better than no negotiation at all
    • freedom to pursue more creative solutions (because you have that standard to compare against)
  • Make sure you ask for more, and don't accept the first offer
  • The better your BATNA the greater your power. You don't have to disclose it, especially if yours is weak.
  • Preparation for negotiation
    • Who are you dealing with and what is important to them?
    • What are their preferred negotiation strategies?
  • Separate people from the problem
    • Match culture to minimize misunderstandings (clothing, attitude)
    • Not about the people in the room--minimize emotions (positive or negative)
  • Compromise is the goal of negotiation, you want to come up with the best solution for everyone. Focus on your shared interest:
    • Use "we", not "you" or "me"
    • Work toward mutual gain within constraints: cost, time, resources/people, level of insights, etc.
  • Use objective criteria and standards like web analytics, surveys, internal measurements over time. Have the analysis beforehand or offer to go gather it as part of the negotiation.
  • Resources
  • Audience question: her boss's BATNA is "I said to do it so do it." Speaker says "I always say that when people actually see usability tests it turns their world upside-down"--make advocates in your organization, maybe in your own time (e.g. organize brown-bags and other events)

Key take-home points for me:

Having a clear picture of what I will do if negotiation completely fails sounds like a great idea and is something I should remember to do. And I should really read that Getting to YES book.