Why is it that we are so afraid to listen to our end-users? That it's so scary to let your product end up at the fingertips of a human being? Wasn't it intended to be used by a buying customer in the end? Or was the whole thing created just for the sake of it?
Working in projects is hard. Why? See it as a relationship with your partner. It's the same thing in-between consultants, agencies and companies. It takes time to create trust and have a fully inspired creative team, but here are some tricks I use to get there faster.
Humbleness & Willpower
I'm a strong believer in communication. Not just within the team, that goes without saying, but with everyone. And by everyone I mean the stakeholder, the company experts, the focus groups or the end-users. Because, when you communicate, you listen, and when you listen, you show everyone else that you're humble to others opinion. And that creates trust. Everyone wants to be heard and if you never listen and just do, you're bound to be smacked on the wrists at some point in your project. And that can hurt very very much.
Burn, baby burn
But with trust your can accelerate. And within that acceleration you burn brightest when you show off willpower. And when the ones that are around you sees your willpower shining it's brightest, that's gonna give even more energy to the project and with that you can march right into even the hardest political battles that you might face in your project.
Be transparent and have fun
On the same topic as "trust", transparency let's you go a long way. Don't be afraid to show what you're doing. As a matter of fact, do the opposite. Try to show as much as you're doing and do so both at where you're working and in meetings.
Let loose of your comfort zone
People are afraid to let others come to close to their comfort zone and that's the beloved sweet spot. But that's where you want to be in your project to create change! But you will never get there unless you show others that you're perfectly comfortable to go outside your comfort zone. And that will relief tension and make others relax, and when people get relaxed they smile :)
Everyone can be creative!
And when you've created this comfortable environment others will feel welcomed and included, and from that you will get creativity. And the fun part is that everyone can be creative. It is not reserved for "the creatives", everyone can pitch in!
Everything falls unless routines
So by now you've created this open and inclusive environment that most feel welcomed working in. Now what? You're this expert that costs a lot of money by the hour. Jokes alone won't win this project. You have to get down to business. And how do you do that? When working in a team, you need routines. Otherwise everything falls apart and that can happen quick, especially in the beginning of a project. Because that's where the uncertainty level is the highest; between you, the team and the customer, and you have nothing to yet to show that says you're worth that hourly rate.
Design studios, demos & retros
So what actions is important within these 2-4 week sprints that you build your project during? Well you have to know what you're building and to whom your building it for, so some sort of pre-study or Proof of Concept is needed otherwise you will be flying blind. After that you need to know how you're going to design this, both from a traditional design point of view but also from an UX-perspective. Have design studios where you invite all of the important people within the project and let them feed you with both ideas and their expertise, from that you can create wireframes that you later on can design deeper. Do this often, at least once per sprint and show the end result in a design review. From that review you continue development and when the sprint has ended you will invite everyone back for a demonstration to show "the end result". Which it will never be since it's an iterative process ;) After each sprint you need retrospectives where you go through what went good and where you can improve for the next sprint.