Last month I flew to DC to present at HOW Interactive on the topic of Enagaging Multiple Stakeholders in an Interactive Design Project. I had a great time presenting in Washington and in particular enjoyed the feedback and questions from the attendees. The topic is one that is near and dear to our hearts here at Raised Eyebrow, working as we do most of the time with non-profit organizations, which means also working with multiple stakeholders.
In a non-profit context, it's not unusual to get input from sources like: project funders, organizational leadership, communications staff, donor development staff, membership and volunteer managers, the board, the IT department, and so on and so forth. While I'll admit that even for those of us who are very seasoned at running projects of this nature sometimes it can feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there is an aspect to working on projects of this nature that ultimately leads to stronger final project outcomes. Getting to that stronger outcomes requires adhering to a lot of best practices and team coordination, but the real upside, in my opinion, is in fact the opportunity this affords to engage different perspectives.
One of the topics I touch on in my presentation is the idea that everyone on the project is an expert. While our team at Raised Eyebrow is being hired for our expertise in everything from content strategy and open source CMS development, to mobile and accessibility best practices, we see our clients as experts in their fields. Each player they are able to bring to the table brings an expertise to bear that will enhance the final outcome. Figuring out how to best engage each stakeholders' knowledge, while also moving the project along at a reasonable pace, can be one of the biggest challenges on any project, but ignoring those inputs for the sake of a faster turn around can jeopardize the ultimate outcomes the team is working toward.
Much like conducting user research, which also makes for very strong outcomes, the secret to engaging multiple stakeholders often lies in the types of questions you ask, or where in the process you solicit input. When done right, it has the perhaps even bigger impact of bringing the whole organization on board with the project and its outcomes, and in a world where digital is increasingly at the centre of any organization, getting that buy in can be the key to the future success of a project, not just the immediate launch outcomes.
I've included my slidedeck for this presentation below, and if anyone happens to be in the San Francisco area at the end of the month, I believe there are still some tickets to HOW Interactive West, which is stacked with great presenters. Of course, if you're interested in talking about a project that requires input from multiple stakeholders, we'd love to chat.