UX it is Time to Surrender

We have all been on teams where the business, technology and even UX people won’t budge because everyone thinks they know best. The thing is that in the end, by everyone holding strong, nobody, including our user, wins. So how do we solve this strong hold? Simple… we surrender.

The UX Athlete

From designing plays to designing experiences... Lis Hubert shares with us her insights on how to become better in what we do.

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I recently joined a basketball team where everyone has a competitive, strong-willed personality. This makes it difficult for us to agree on and follow through with a single game plan. I knew that we needed to switch something up in order to be successful. I then realized that we all come from different backgrounds and probably all of us, in some way, know the best way to win. The only way to combine these backgrounds was to surrender my own strong hold, and hope that my team would do the same.

Now, my surrender was not giving up. I certainly didn’t throw away my own game plan, I just didn’t push it on to others. Instead, I took down my wall and let in all the other ideas, processed them, combined them with my own to come up with new ways to win. And guess what happened? As soon as I surrendered those around me began to as well.

Being a UX person on a project team is no different. We can think our UX way of thinking and doing is the best way all we want, but pushing that way on to an unreceptive team, or being unreceptive to new ideas ourselves, will never bring success. Instead we need surrender our strong hold. Once we do that  not only will our team follow suit, but we can also begin to take in all the other knowledge around us, meld it with our way of doing and thinking and come to a successful solution for all.

Elisabeth Hubert

Lis is a UX & Strategy Consultant making her way around NYC and beyond. She also is the Chief Experience Officer at 8coupons. You can follow her on Twitter via @lishubert.

11 comments on this article

  1. Danielle Arad on

    Hi Lis, I very much enjoyed reading this article. I thank you for posting how sometimes the relationship between designer and business does not work and those challenges are very much real behind the fabulous product that is released to the users. I just published an article stressing that the fluid collaboration between UX & UI designer and business is crucial to creating a good user experience. If not, well, quite unfortunate if you ask me.


  2. Jordan on

    It’s an important point that many people forget. Everyone (in their own way) is looking out for the best interest of the project, but often forget that team alignment is often just as important as any single aspect of the project.

    Someone who evangelizes collaboration and team alignment could be the biggest asset of a team member.

  3. Drew Shapter on

    Absolutely, that’s how a good team works.

  4. Warwick Kay on

    Great post! This is a very important tool I believe but can be very hard to do. Everyone wants the best out of the project, but everyone also wants to be the ‘hero’ and have their idea ‘win’ as such.

    I think also may be good to note that opening up transparency about the reasoning behind ones ideas can go a long way to getting everyone to let their guard down. Also I believe in doing this more people are willing to talk and discuss the topics, rather than just rebut with their own idea.

    I find the more we discuss each others ideas, rather than one or many people just dictating ideas the better the ideas are and the more the team can validate each other.

    Once again, great post (as usual)

  5. Brett Lutchman on

    Liz, I always enjoy reading your articles. This ego very much reflects what I’ve been witnessing all along from a distance. Egos destroy teams, projects and relationships.
    Sometimes we need to step aside so others can move forward. By doing this, the team wins. As a consultant I have learned this lesson the hard way.
    Here’s wishing and hoping your actions will help impact our field.
    Great write up.

  6. Gail Swanson on

    I’d love to shout this message from the rooftops! Being unyielding in your fight for a good UX does little more than breed frustration. I’ve lived this approach and witnessed other UXers crash and burn because they were too passionate for “what is right”.

    The best UX comes when a designer listens, helps team members understand each other’s ideas and explore good ones together. Being ‘right’ and winning the argument is empty. More on embracing collaboration and design as facilitation here: http://www.practicallyux.com/designers-must-change/

  7. Lis on

    Thanks for the comments all! I’m glad this was helpful, well received, and echo’d throughout the rafters :-)! These comments are helpful, spot on, and timely. Thanks for reading!

    Danielle – I would love a link to the article

    Jordan – yes… the are the most important person…. couldn’t agree more!

    Drew – thanks 🙂

    Brett – totally agree. As a consultant myself i had to learn these lessons quickly to find success

    Gail – yay! totally agree. Thanks for the article!

  8. Stewart McCoy on

    My roommate always used to say “Be water, my friend”, quoting Bruce Lee, whenever we used difficulties in life. I think it applies in this case, as well. There are many ways to win, and when faced with obstinate personalities, it can be a wise strategy to consider their winning approach and figure out how to supplement and support it, rather than completely overturn it or block any path to success.

  9. Stewart McCoy on

    I would add, however, that “surrender” might not accurately frame the approach you’re recommending.

  10. Avangelistdesign on

    I’ve surrendered on almost every project, if you don’t then you’re not the impartial expert you’re meant to be.

    You’re client will always know better than you, so will you’re boss and most of the time so will you’re team. If you stand fast you will end up frustrated, upset and generally miserable. We all want to make things great but it isn’t worth beating yourself up over. We are all our own critics and you have to tak ethe high road 6 months later when it transpires you were right from the start.

  11. Stephen Eighmey on

    This article makes an excellent point, collaboration makes us more likely to be successful. It’s sometimes difficult to let go of an idea that you are so passionate about, but by fostering successful group dynamics you can make many positive things happen through indirect influence.