We’ve had immense luck with Personas at Zillow for everything from Development to Design to Sales to Marketing to ops. When we adopted it as an outside consultant project [in 2006], I never would have guessed it would become so embedded. I literally think there is never a meeting at Zillow where one of the personas is not cited by name.
– Rich Barton, Executive Chairman, Zillow
Working with Tamara was an inspiration. The feedback on the new site – both internally and externally – has been overwhelmingly positive. And a year later, our personas are still alive and kicking – our colleagues are using them as a reference in various other efforts to better respond to our stakeholders. Tamara was a pleasure to work with – and much more fun than most international web gurus.
– John Tarpey, Director, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
So why are you reading this?
- Your products and features could be much more innovative, exciting, and functional
- Your meetings should be more productive, and decisions should stick
- Your teams’ deliverables should be much better
If you’ve hired well, your employees can design and build anything you want them to. If your products are lackluster, it might be because your teams don’t know what you want them to build, and why. And if your teams don’t know, it’s typically because they aren’t getting clarity and focus from the top down.
Maybe your executive team isn’t as aligned as you think.
It’s extremely easy for an executive team to convince themselves they are aligned, and to create documents that enhance the illusion. Luckily, it’s also easy to spot the symptoms of executive misalignment:
In executive meetings:
- Solid agreement that disappears between meetings
- Conversations that repeat, even after you thought they were resolved
- Turf battles disguised as passionate commitment to customers
- Goals and objectives that you have to rewrite every quarter
- Decisions based on fear of losing existing customers
In the rest of your org:
- Conflict between sales or marketing and engineering
- Disgruntled designers and devs producing disappointing designs (despite your
- Frequent resource reallocation
- Employees who can’t list top business goals (and how their work ties in)
In your products:
- A product that feels more like a pile of features than an exciting solution
to real problems
- Still-live ‘version 1’ features that never got a version 2
- Features you launched to keep up with your competitors
- Features that lose all pizazz by the time they are launched
Why is a UX maven focused on Executive Alignment?
The answer is simple: people who design and build things can’t do their best work without clear, dependable direction. The best way to help people design and build great things is to provide crystal-clear goals and expectations from the executives. Most executives think they are very clear, but most executive teams are playing an unwitting game of telephone. Executive misalignments turn into organizational misalignments. Organizational misalignments have a nasty habit of staying invisible until they turn into confused priorities, demotivated employees, and lackluster products.
Executive Alignment work is not touchy-feely, trust-fall, kumbaya bullshit.
Executive Alignment is a structured process I’ve developed over my 15 year consulting career that resolves misalignment without causing a political explosion. It’s a battle-tested process that works for any executive team, from tiny startups to huge enterprises. Executive Alignment work surfaces (and embraces) assumptions, tackles hard questions early, creates a common language, and eliminates fear of choosing the wrong path.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
I give great talks on Executive Alignment.