notebook notes


Don’t be mistaken: it’s not BLIND without the “I” (get it?); it’s pronounced “BLEND”. I don’t remember what it stands for, but it’s the intersection of business and design.

Speaker presentation
Janice Wong – Meeting People Where They’re at: A Tools & Methods Presentation

I had the opportunity to attend BLND, this one-day, full-day UX event (conference) that was entirely free (even the food was free, and the optional bus from/to UW)! By the end of it, I went home impressed at the quality of the talks, the workshops, and the flow of how they managed to jam-pack a day’s worth of material. This was also the first event where I felt that there was a good mix of community professionals and students, and  got to hear from various people on how they got onto the UX path. I’ve come to conclude that no one journey is the same, and reflecting back, mine seems just as accidental[ref]but we all know that nothing in life is accidental, and I don’t believe in coincidences[/ref] as the many who shared their stories[ref]My story? Two English courses in my program piqued my interest, then interactions with those at work, options to either go UX or PM route, and then to research or design route[/ref]. Though, the path can be so much more directed as a student these days, as there are a multitude of programs in this field!

The workshop I chose to attend covered many tips that would have been quite useful in the large corporate environment where I spent a number of years at as a UX person[ref]at a time where UX roles were relatively new and where job titles weren’t standard across the company or industry convention, so getting HR to recognize that what I did was on par with other peers in the org was only possible with a supportive manager[/ref], and it was a great complement to the keynote talk which reminded us to embrace “the villains” (the naysayers or skeptics). I’m jotting down the condensed / key notes here as I promised to exchange notes with those who went to the others.

The Art of Stakeholdering

Workshop by Chelsea Omel (TELUS), Patrick Bach (TD), Markus Grupp (Indigo) – all formerly at TELUS’ design team focusing on consumer products

Google found me the slides! [ref]it would also appear that 3 of these talks at the other event were given here as well; here is the third. Guess it’s no surprise that one of the planners of the SDNCanada event was the event organizer for BLND[/ref]

Stakeholder: one who has a stake in the enterprise, and involved in or affected by a course of action, who is going to be impacted by what you’re putting out. The majority of people will not be the perfect stakeholder.

Always remember: it’s a two-way relationship.


  1. Know your actor(s)

    • their knowledge of design, their belief in design, and
      Notebook notes
      “Characters” that fall into the four quadrants

      their level of influence – keeping in mind that driving change or adoption from top-down is much easier than from bottom-up

    • could fall into one of four quadrants / types:
      1. prospect – low belief, low in understanding of design
      2. skeptic – low belief, high in understanding; may become an obstacle or distraction, being a disruption in meetings, and might even rub off on others and lower the energy
      3. eager beaver –  low in understanding but high in belief
      4. champion – high in understanding and in belief in design
    • understand their background or need
    • building empathy with stakeholders is vital
    • Recommended reading: Design Thinking in Harvard Business Review
  2. Write the script

    • language is important: adopt the language of the people / of the organization
    • Find out what the words mean; define your context
    • understand your stakeholders; understand their mental models:
      notebook notes
      Another example above: these are equally valid concepts for the idea of a “merger”

      e.g. the word “research” could have different meanings for many people (“market research”, “academically”, qualitative vs quantitative);
      there is a risk of miscommunication when one person has a different mental model than another;
      physical mental models (e.g. a house) are easier to illustrate than service experience mental models (e.g. getting your morning coffee/tea)

    • Group icebreaker idea: sketch the steps on how each of them would make a cake; how much detail will one insert into a sketch? this helps you to gain insight on what they value and surface assumptions – where people are at, what they are thinking
    • Reminder: you might get buy-in into the process, not necessarily into the product / idea, and that could still be considered a “win”
  3. Set the stage

    • adapt activities to who is in the room,
    • workshops: to get people on the same page

      1. showing: for skeptics, prospects; high-production in quality, simple
      2. learning: for prospect, eager beavers; e.g. Design 101; case-studies, templates, examples to work through together, coaching opportunities such as journey maps, empathy maps
      3. working: for champions, eager beavers; have clear objectives, advanced tools, and less prep work is usually necessary; the dream state

Remember: [embrace failures] sometimes failures can lead to success!

Mastering the art of stakeholdering is what sets you apart

Me: In other words, if I was to assign “competency” categories to it (according to HR report cards when it comes to self-assessments and performance reviews), this would be key under influence and persuasion.

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