Turning HiPPOs into AlliesSamantha Starmer<br />
me<br /><ul><li>Not a HiPPO
11+ years managing customer focused strategy & IA
MLIS,Lecturer at University of Washington
Amazon, SchemaLogic, Microsoft, REI
Focus on business case and evangelizing
Lucky at getting funded</li></li></ul><li>
HiPPO<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/munir/465554598/<br />
HighestiPaidPerson’sOpinion*<br />
Avinash Kaushik<br />
HiPPOS can derail projects<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/steveaux/486929817<br />
HiPPOScan kill funding<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/lantzilla/2249083758<br />
HiPPOS can approve marketing features users don’t want<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/113120247/<br />
Often…the loudest voice wins<br />
Or the most influential…<br />http://www.acor.org/ped-onc/extfamily/White/images/kandi3.jpg<br />
IA/UX can get cut<br />
Sea of HiPPOs<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/pluca/2450791443/<br />
Politics suck<br />
HiPPO Tips<br />Identifying the HiPPO<br />Tracking the HiPPO<br />Neutralizing the HiPPO<br />Helping HiPPOs help you<br />
Identifying the HiPPO<br />Photo courtesy of Stephan Castillo & Christy Sky of Disney Worldhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/sc...
Identifying the HiPPO<br />Know organizational structure<br />Understand strategic objectives<br />Watch out for HiPPOs in...
Organizational Structure<br />www.photobasement.com/donald-duck-family-tree<br />
Strategic Objectives<br />
Watch for HiPPOs in disguisehttp://lemontree.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/wc_rhinopluswings.jpg<br />
Listen (more than you speak)<br />
Watch (more than you present)<br />
Tracking the HiPPO<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/saadiq/2389521241 <br />
Tracking the HiPPO<br />Know company’s decision making model<br />Know company’s bonus & performance review structure<br /...
Know Decision Making Model<br />
Know Performance & Bonus structure<br />
Lay pipe<br />
Find the HiPPOs breeding ground<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/cottonm/71972163 <br />
Neutralizing the HiPPO<br />Don’t pen them in<br />Communicate collaboratively<br />Pick your battles<br />Use strategy an...
Don’t pen HiPPOs in<br />Matthew Falk<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/mfalk/2764309498<br />
Communicate Collaboratively (aka playing nice)<br />
Pick your battles<br />
Strategy & Tactics<br />
Educate (but don’t be pedantic)<br />
Use Data & Analytics<br />
Helping HiPPOs help You<br />Be generous - let other people steal <br />Deal with HiPPOs on their terms<br />Watch out for...
Let others steal from you<br />
Deal with HiPPOs on their own terms<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/wagnerr/2236264459/<br />
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Turning HiPPOs into Allies - IA Summit 2009

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Turning executives and others in power (HIPPO = Highest Paid Person's Opinion) into your allies.

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  • I’m in innie, but I’ve hired a lot of UX consultants and have successfully increased UX budget by 300%, gotten big customer focused projects approved, and added new headcount just two months ago right after one of the worst retail holiday seasons in history.
  • I’ve had a bit of series of titles in my current job as we try to figure out what it is that I actually do, but at the moment my title is Manager of Online Information Strategy and Architecture.
  • It is critical that you listen, as early and often as possible. This one is particularly difficult for me because I get so excited about things. In one role I was pretty new and had called a meeting with some peers and our upper management to start evangelizing the need for an IA function at the company. I noted that we didn’t do wireframes, and started to talk about how valuable they would be. Had I been listening more carefully over the previous couple of months, I would have realized that in this organization, the term ‘wireframe’ was used to mean ‘high fidelity design mockup’. So when I spoke about the lack of wireframes, I offended the person in charge of design and greatly confused everyone else. This misstep caused at least a year of slow down in my efforts to bring an IA discipline to the work.
  • Similarly, watch more than you present. There is no way you can know what to present or how to present without carefully watching everything around you. You can learn so much by watching people’s faces, body language and level of engagement in meetings or when someone is presenting. Are people having side conversations? With whom? A couple of years ago I learned this one the hard way when I was in a meeting where an agency I hired was presenting their UX solution to the executive ultimately in charge of the website. The agency was watching their notes, I was watching the agency and no one was watching the executive. He got sidetracked on one piece of the presentation and completely missed a foundational point the agency was making that was key to understanding their whole approach. I saw him get sidetracked, but I wasn’t truly watching. I was mentally prepping for my part in the presentation. This mistake cost that agency later work, their reputation to anyone who talked to the executive and I had to hole up for 3 weeks to redo their work according to his opinion.
  • Know how people are evaluated and how they get bonuses. Similar to understanding the business objectives for various teams, having a sense of what goals people are evaluated on will enable you to understand their motivations. Maybe their goals are aligned in ways you would have never guessed with your work. Maybe their goals are in opposition to yours. Even if you can’t change their goals, it is helpful to know so as not to not take it personally if someone is always unresponsive to your ideas. I have recently started working with someone in a completely different department that I normally never work with because I eventually discovered that her goals are all around putting the customer first.
  • Know how people are evaluated and how they get bonuses. Similar to understanding the business objectives for various teams, having a sense of what goals people are evaluated on will enable you to understand their motivations. Maybe their goals are aligned in ways you would have never guessed with your work. Maybe their goals are in opposition to yours. Even if you can’t change their goals, it is helpful to know so as not to not take it personally if someone is always unresponsive to your ideas. I have recently started working with someone in a completely different department that I normally never work with because I eventually discovered that her goals are all around putting the customer first.
  • Lay pipe. This is a favorite of my current VP, passed down to me by my manager who has been a brilliant mentor Begin setting the stage for what you want to happen months or even years in advance. I have positive momentum just starting to happen now on work that I started a year and a half ago. Pre-sell your ideas as much as you can up, down and sideways. If what you are proposing could be controversial work to make the conversations ‘barely uncomfortable’. This was great feedback my manager gave me in my last review. True change will probably require some slightly tense conversations rather than just going with the flow all of the time, but if you make people too uncomfortable too early they might shut off completely.
  • Play nice. This is a good general rule for any part of business, but sometimes it can be hard if you feel like others are not including you and your work or valuing it appropriately. Try to let all of that go and find everyway possible to collaborate. Ask people for their thoughts and perspectives on user experience. You will always learn something, at the very least you will learn more about how that person thinks.
  • Pick your battles. Be okay with not getting your way all of the time. There are times when it will be much better for the long haul to just let some stuff go, even you disagree, even if it contrary to your entire vision. Here is an admission I almost hate to make: I’ve let whole projects launch without pushing for a UX component because I knew that harping on it at that time and circumstance would probably turn people off longer term and I knew that I needed all the support I could get later on for more critical work. The key is knowing which battles to let go, and it’s something I still spend everyday thinking about.
  • Strategy and tactics. We have been talking a lot about strategy over the last number of years, and how to get a ‘seat at the strategy table’, but we can’t forget the tactics as well. A lot of Hippos prize results above all else, and you could have the most brilliant strategy in the world, but if you can’t walk the walk they could lose interest. Pride yourself on finding ways to just get something done. Even if it is on something small, it will start to get you noticed as a do-er, and in a world where everyone wants a piece of the strategy pie, sometimes playing the tactics is different enough to get you noticed.
  • Educate but don’t be pendantic. You may have to teach some Hippos about UX and why it is important. More challenging, you may have to re-teach them.
  • Use data and analytics. I have to admit; I am not a numbers person and have yet to discover any latent talent for analyzing data. However, in many many organizations, the higher up you get the more you have to care about KPIs and ROI and TCO and all of those financial acronyms. Get comfortable with measuring, analyzing and being accountable!
  • Turning HiPPOs into Allies - IA Summit 2009

    1. 1. Turning HiPPOs into AlliesSamantha Starmer<br />
    2. 2. me<br /><ul><li>Not a HiPPO
    3. 3. 11+ years managing customer focused strategy & IA
    4. 4. MLIS,Lecturer at University of Washington
    5. 5. Amazon, SchemaLogic, Microsoft, REI
    6. 6. Focus on business case and evangelizing
    7. 7. Lucky at getting funded</li></li></ul><li>
    8. 8. HiPPO<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/munir/465554598/<br />
    9. 9. HighestiPaidPerson’sOpinion*<br />
    10. 10. Avinash Kaushik<br />
    11. 11.
    12. 12.
    13. 13. HiPPOS can derail projects<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/steveaux/486929817<br />
    14. 14. HiPPOScan kill funding<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/lantzilla/2249083758<br />
    15. 15. HiPPOS can approve marketing features users don’t want<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/113120247/<br />
    16. 16. Often…the loudest voice wins<br />
    17. 17. Or the most influential…<br />http://www.acor.org/ped-onc/extfamily/White/images/kandi3.jpg<br />
    18. 18. IA/UX can get cut<br />
    19. 19. Sea of HiPPOs<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/pluca/2450791443/<br />
    20. 20. Politics suck<br />
    21. 21. HiPPO Tips<br />Identifying the HiPPO<br />Tracking the HiPPO<br />Neutralizing the HiPPO<br />Helping HiPPOs help you<br />
    22. 22. Identifying the HiPPO<br />Photo courtesy of Stephan Castillo & Christy Sky of Disney Worldhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/scottkinmartin/489538824<br />
    23. 23. Identifying the HiPPO<br />Know organizational structure<br />Understand strategic objectives<br />Watch out for HiPPOs in disguise<br />Listen more than you speak<br />Watch more than you present<br />
    24. 24. Organizational Structure<br />www.photobasement.com/donald-duck-family-tree<br />
    25. 25. Strategic Objectives<br />
    26. 26. Watch for HiPPOs in disguisehttp://lemontree.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/wc_rhinopluswings.jpg<br />
    27. 27. Listen (more than you speak)<br />
    28. 28. Watch (more than you present)<br />
    29. 29. Tracking the HiPPO<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/saadiq/2389521241 <br />
    30. 30. Tracking the HiPPO<br />Know company’s decision making model<br />Know company’s bonus & performance review structure<br />Lay pipe (the art of the pre-sell)<br />Find the HiPPOs breeding ground<br />
    31. 31. Know Decision Making Model<br />
    32. 32. Know Performance & Bonus structure<br />
    33. 33. Lay pipe<br />
    34. 34. Find the HiPPOs breeding ground<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/cottonm/71972163 <br />
    35. 35. Neutralizing the HiPPO<br />Don’t pen them in<br />Communicate collaboratively<br />Pick your battles<br />Use strategy and tactics<br />Teach a HiPPO about IA and UX<br />Use data and analytics<br />
    36. 36. Don’t pen HiPPOs in<br />Matthew Falk<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/mfalk/2764309498<br />
    37. 37. Communicate Collaboratively (aka playing nice)<br />
    38. 38. Pick your battles<br />
    39. 39. Strategy & Tactics<br />
    40. 40. Educate (but don’t be pedantic)<br />
    41. 41. Use Data & Analytics<br />
    42. 42. Helping HiPPOs help You<br />Be generous - let other people steal <br />Deal with HiPPOs on their terms<br />Watch out for your own HiPPOness<br />Be open to new ideas<br />
    43. 43. Let others steal from you<br />
    44. 44. Deal with HiPPOs on their own terms<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/wagnerr/2236264459/<br />
    45. 45. Watch out for your own HiPPOness<br />
    46. 46. Be open to new ideas<br />
    47. 47. Get funded!<br />
    48. 48. Questions?<br />sstarme@rei.com<br />
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