Communicating ideas through an organization – Andrew Crow

When a speaker starts a talk with a James Kirk reference, you can’t help but listen on to figure out how you too can win Koboyashi Maru challenge… Actually I am not a big star trek fan, but I am a huge dork nonetheless.

Andrew’s talk puts much more eloquently what I tried to write about in this article: “Six Techniques for advocating design in your organization“. (Shameless self-plug is allowed on my own blog 🙂 )


Here are Andrew’s 6 tips:

1. Understand people:

Your coworkers are people, they have emotions, motivations and goals.
Andrew favored Myers Briggs test, apparently they do it openly at Adapative Path and it helps them understand how to approach each person differently when they communicate with each other. I personally think this is a great idea as long as it’s used for good and not evil. Good – help each person understand how to communicate effectively with their colleagues. Evil – use it to box people into groups and create stereotypes that are not helpful to team building.

2. Motivation:

Find out what motivates people and appeal to them from that angle.
Navigating politics: Manage people and organizations and recognize your constraints. Minimize negative impact on those constraints. Manage expectations.

Manage up: make sure the boss knows what you need to be successful. But pick your battles. I know I’ve made this mistake before and very soon realized I didn’t pick the right battles. Often times I could mitigate it, but sometimes it’s too late. It takes time to practice this, especially if you are a passionate person 🙂

Manage down: Set up team’s environment and mindsets. Protect and serve those around you. I think this is important even if you don’t have anyone reporting to you. I’ve been more conscious about this lately with people I collaborate with.

3. Moving the sub-conscious cheese:

Nice analogy. Change perception and undrstanding through gradual adjustment. “How can you help them help you?”

4 . Bulid credibility and share knowledge:

Increase other’s awareness and understanding removes barriers and levels the field. I think this is really hard to do and I am constantly trying to find better ways to help me do this. I often see designers take a more Nazi approach and talk at people about design and its value. That doesn’t seem to work very well. I have been guilty of this in this past. Recently, I’ve taken a real conscious effort to take an informal and collaborative approach to help my colleagues understand my work – I tend to choose working with them and showing results along the way rather than preaching. However, through that relationship building, I feel you set up a lot more opportunities for them to ask questions, thus giving you an opportunity to share and build credibility. It’s a long and slow process I think.

5. Using influence:

I love this quote: “You can accomplish anything you want in life provided that you don’t mind who gets the credit” – Harry S Truman.

Using influence and getting your message through your influencers to the person who can help you make the change – is not evil! I have seen people who tried to practice this but were sneaky about it. That does not serve anyone very well. If you are trying to bring positive changes to your organization, find those who can help you help them! It’s ok to do, moreover, it’s hard work also.


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