Getting real about the influence of business in UX practice (and thriving anyway).

Folks going to business school are taught nothing about UX, design or research.

The result? Businesses are run by people who don’t truly understand any of the things — much less their importance to creating and launching successful products.

In my experience, organizations come around to hiring UXers only after having suffered dire consequences of some kind. They've been hurt in a way that gets the attention of senior executives (and often shareholders). Serious money has been lost, which is what makes everyone suddenly wake up and take notice.

That sequence of events goes something like this:

1) The business gets kicked in the teeth. HARD.

2) They grudgingly hire UXers or designers, either as employees or via contract.

3) They do so with no idea what those hires are actually going to do or change for them.

By way of example, a company I worked with — an enterprise behemoth worth somewhere around $2.4B — had customers clamoring for a self-service solution. The company dragged their heels on creating and delivering that solution for roughly five years, because they could. They were the market leader, the only game in town. Customers had nowhere else to go.

That changed when two competitors entered the market offering self-service that was infinitely better and more convenient, at 25% of my client's fees. The company lost hundreds of millions of dollars within six months… and quickly came to the conclusion that maaaaybe it should invest in that UX stuff they’d been hearing so much about.

Why do I tell you this story? Because even when this happens, when that business suddenly gets UX religion, they still don't know what better UX or design is gonna do for them. They still have zero understanding of the function of UXers or designers. All they know is they need to respond to the hit they've just taken and they're looking for some nebulous miracle to happen that stops the bleeding.

Here's the thing:

This is partly their fault — and partly ours.

In this talk, I explain why that is along with what all of us — collectively — need to stop doing. How our behavior reinforces their beliefs about what we do. How we enable this learned helplessness.

All too often, I hear UXers complain (rightfully) about organizations giving them barely any autonomy at all. Why hire someone if you don’t want to hear them out? Isn't it ridiculous that UXers and designers have to fight for a seat at the table?

Yes, it is.

But you can deal with what is, or you can waste a lot of time wishing it was some other way.

During the next 40 minutes we're going to cover a very practical, pragmatic approach to bridging the gap, demonstrating value and ditching dogma in favor of clearer communication and collaboration.

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Business, Buzzwords + Bullshit: Exclusive unedited session with Looppanel