The Art of Letting Others Have It Your Way (feat. Ryan Rumsey)


August 31, 2015
“Principles are uncovered, not necessarily developed.”


So, you’re a great designer - but do you know how to listen, drive a conversation, and build consensus with your clients, company, or teams? Ryan Rumsey, the Director of Experience Design at Electronic Arts IT, hops in the Funsize studio to share his knowledge and experiences in persuasion and building consensus with stakeholders in the enterprise world.

1:00 Ryan discussing his role as Director of Experience Design at Electronic Arts IT and his expertise in Enterprise User Experience Design. He also gives us an overview of some of the things he did in his previous role at Apple.

3:15 Apple’s hush hush culture. It’s easy designing software for Apple employees because everyone at Apple only uses Apple products.

5:40 Rick talks about his experience working on enterprise design projects. Ryan discusses some of the dynamics of working in an enterprise environment and the art of selling your design work to your internal stakeholders.

7:00 We discuss Ryan’s new article “Influence and Design Success - The art of letting others have your way”. As a design leader, it’s rare to be able to take credit for the pixel level work. Your job is to motivate and inspire your team to push the envelope and produce great outcomes. Sometimes when you know you have the right answer you just can’t push it. You have to be the muse and let other believe the idea was theirs. Ryan gives us an example about a project where he struggled with the stakeholder. It’s hard to tell a client no or that they are wrong, especially when there’s data to support it.

9:10 Ryan teaches us an old improv technique from his former life as a professional actor called “Yes, and?”. The scenario is that you accept what anyone said and simply add to it so you can help drive a conversation. When a stakeholder provides a comment in the heat of the moment that you don’t agree with or know is wrong, it’s always best to let them know that you heard them and that you will take some time to consider it. When you come back to the table, remind them of the conversation they brought up and elaborate on how it inspired you to think about the problem deeper and in devising the solution to meet the need. “With your inspiration I was able to create this!”

12:00 It’s not a design exercise, it’s about understanding your team or stakeholders personality or character so you can can build consensus and get designs approved.

14:30 We aren’t using these tactics for bad or for personal best interests. It’s for the good of helping our clients and stakeholders achieve desired business outcomes and ultimately success with products people love.

“Knowing the users and having empathy for them isn’t always going to resonate with them.”

16:00 Defending your work properly. Many of the people that tell you “no” or that you're wrong are highly successful individuals that get shit done. If you can help them get a win, then all of a sudden they will become a massive advocate. Your gut reaction is many times right but don’t just react or build. Take time to process. Learn to shut up and let things go. Let people know you heard and listened and that you’ll consider it. Instead of design lingo learn to use persuasive business words that business people understand.

18:30 How design teams can leverage these principles to build vision, consensus, plans, and designs that everyone can believe in. Use design thinking practices! Use principles and values to ensure you’re on the same page. If you don’t have any structure or framework it can be hard to know where to apply your creativity, and that makes for very dispersed shotgun approaches - and can end up focusing on things that actually might not need creativity. Hence, design language and UI frameworks. Creativity lives within structure. When things stop working, it’s time to look at your principles.

“Principles are uncovered, not necessarily developed.”

23:00 Rick and Anthony discuss how we onboard new clients to introduce our new Client Partners to Funsize, our principles, process, and our company culture.

28:00 We couldn’t find that Staind video so please tweet us if you find it!

29:00 A sidebar conversation reminiscing about a punk rock era.

31:00 Hustle Podcast Season 1 conclusion and announcement of Season 2.

On this episode

Anthony Armendariz

Ryan Rumsey

Rick Messer