Getting Clients & Stakeholders Onboard with a Bias for Making

Jared Spool

March 11th, 2014

Shaun wrote:

I recently read your article A Bias for Making. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to educate clients/stakeholders and get them onboard with the process?

Shaun has asked a great question. I have four tips for getting clients and stakeholders onboard.

The first is to choose clients who are ready to push the bias on making over planning. If a client has no interest in a process that involves iterative making up front, will they be a good client? (Good means “a client you want to work for.”) Being picky about our clients is an important step in our work.

Second, when they lean towards asking for plans, suggest the best way to learn what to plan is to build something quick and see how it turns out. The resulting plans will be more solid when you have most of the questions answered by a quick upfront prototyping adventure.

Third, build your internal processes so that you always turn in your plans along with something you’ve built to show what you mean. When you’re doing a project timeline, build something quick to show the different pieces and how they’ll start to look. If every deliverable involves something you’ve made, you’ll condition your client to expect that from you. (And, of course, if you’ve made the right things, it’ll make their reaction to the deliverable that much more insightful and valuable to you.)

Fourth, open up your process to the client. Involve them in the making. Make your stuff alongside of them, so they can see how you work through a problem. One of our worst design habits is the “Big Reveal”, where we show our client what we’ve done without any of the thinking behind it.

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