Ensuring the UX, research or  product design work you do achieves something that truly benefits users — and answers your stakeholders' prayers. 

It goes without saying that everyone involved in creating, designing, developing, or even influencing the user experience of a software product should understand the underlying business goals required for success.

But as obvious as that may seem to you, I've lost count of the number of times folks messaged me every single week to say that no one in their organization really knows what they're after from a business perspective. No one's really sure what those stakeholders who are making all those demands really want from them.

They're running lean or agile, but they're doing it in a way that misunderstands the approach. The planning stuff goes right out the window. WHEEEE, we just iterate! We try shit, and we see what happens!

Except we're not achieving anything anyone cares about.

We're overworked. 

Our stakeholders and executives are pissed

Nobody knows why, and nobody's having a conversation about why.

Here's the thing: 

If your executives or managers or product owners aren't gonna do that strategic planning, then you have to do it.

If for no other reason, than because you  will need something to point to when that executive — who's never come to a single meeting he was invited to — suddenly shows up a week before launch and says, "hey, why are we doing this? That's not what I want."

The bottom line is this: it is up to you to make sure that the work you do achieves something that truly benefits users and improves the product in a way that your stakeholders care about.

It is up to you to make sure that you spend time on things that are worth doing.

And it is most definitely up to you to protect your career and your reputation.

That  all within your power, and you can do it, I promise. No matter what your role or position is, I promise you this: you are absolutely, positively capable of executing on the approach I'm gonna give you here.

There are eight basic areas of digging that need to be addressed in order to create a strategic approach that should inform everyone's efforts from the first sprint planning session onward. The same eight areas that I preach to clients just about every month of my life. 

I'm going to walk you through them here  and show you how addressing them can significantly change the impact of what you do.

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Aligning customer- and end-user goals to success metrics