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Sick Design: Valueless Opinions

Sick Design: Blabbus Continuos

(Latin: “Valueless Opinions”)

It’s easy to make the mistake of not setting a meeting’s expectations and outcomes. A small team of designers and developers went into what was supposed to be a quick feedback session with the key stakeholder. They got a ton of valueless opinions. Little did they know, it would spiral out of control into a full blown “soul searching” exercise around the existence of the app itself. #WINNING

COMMON SYMPTOMS: 

  • Frustrated designers and/or clients
  • Work that doesn’t seem to hit goals or advance objectives 
  • Hair loss (due to being pulled out in frustration)
  • Aimless meetings that never end on time
  • A constant, bad taste in your mouth


CAUSES: 

  • Designers not framing the discussion 
  • Involving the wrong people or too many people in the feedback 
  • Not bringing participants back on track when they go off topic

TREATMENTS:

We’ve all been there. Endless meetings that waste our whole morning or afternoon (or day if you’re not careful). But it may come as a surprise that the person responsible for this waste of time is not the stakeholder who derailed the conversation— it’s you, the designer. 

As designers, it’s our responsibility to ensure each meeting is a success and stays on track. This involves work before, during and after the meeting. All this extra effort may sound like a bummer, but in the end it actually makes our jobs easier. 

Frame the Discussion to Prevent Valueless Opinions

Before the meeting, take steps to frame the discussion. Make sure everyone involved knows exactly what the purpose of the meeting is.  And make sure the goal is small enough that it won’t take hours to get there. 

All too often, people make the mistake of thinking they’ll work together in the meeting. This is not how it works. Hold everyone accountable to come prepared with work or ideas and everyone will get more out of it. 

Invite the Right People 

Another cause of valueless opinions is involving either the wrong people or too many of them. If possible, only invite people directly involved with the project. Keeping the number small ensures more people will contribute and consensus  will come  easier when the time arises. 

BONUS TIP: Make it a standing meeting to keep the energy high and ideas flowing. If people feel like they have the time to sit back and relax, they will. 

Cut Off Meandering at the Pass

During the course of the meeting, the conversation may meander off topic. It’s best to address this immediately in a friendly but firm way. Say something like “That’s a great point, let’s be sure to note that and bring that up later. For now though, we need to finalize our thoughts on this” 
After the meeting, be sure to collect your notes and write a summary email to each person. Include  highlights the main points in bullet form as soon as possible while the discussion is still fresh. End the email with clear next steps.