4 things UX leaders can do to overcome internal politics
by Damian Rees, Founder & UX Director

4 things UX leaders can do to overcome internal politics

4 things UX leaders can do to overcome internal politics

Negotiating the treacherous terrain of internal politics can be a lonely and weary task.  Are you struggling to get your ideas past the bosses, committees, budget holders, and decision makers? Are those critical UX improvements you want to make lacking the key ingredients to push them through the approval process?

I’ve outlined four things you can do to get those changes implemented that you’ve been dreaming about.

1. Use user research to demonstrate the problem

No matter how many times you point out why something on the website should change, without user research, it will always be your opinion versus someone else’s. Break the opinions and assumptions chain by testing the site with real customers. Then use video clips to demonstrate the problems that need fixing. Better yet, invite senior execs along to observe the tests as they happen.

The fastest route I’ve seen to a project being approved, is when senior execs watch users struggle to find and purchase a product on their ecommerce site.


2. Get external people to back you up

Don’t underestimate the power of the external expert. I’ve been to a client meeting to present my UX findings, and speaking with the UX team I’ve found them stunned that the senior exec (who’s been denying their ideas for months) has just nodded through my presentation and approved the changes in less than 20 minutes.

The external perspective is a powerful weapon in getting your changes approved.


3. Align the changes you want to make with the business strategy

Take some time out to look back at why you’re here. Re-visit the reason why you joined the company and the vision you have for where you want to take the digital strategy. Remind yourself of what you want to achieve, and why the company would be in a better place because of your vision.

Then take a look at the wider business strategy and see if you can back up your ideas with the organisation’s goals. Revisit the strategy documents, values, and mission statement and try to find examples of where your ideas align with them. Making your case is much easier when you can demonstrate how it fits into the common goal for the organisation.


4. Stay positive and passionate

Have you become jaded and tired of the same old discussions? It’s easy to feel like this and you don’t need to look too far to find plenty of UXers who feel exactly the same. But a tired, jaded mind-set can mean you lose the argument before you enter the room.

Letting your frustration and tension show in a meeting can lead to other people opposing you before you even speak.  Take the time to calm yourself before a meeting. Try to remain calm and collected despite adversity, and stay positive and upbeat when discussing your plans. It’s easy to get despondent and frustrated when others don’t share your vision, or have their own agenda, but with continuous positive pressure you will get your ideas heard eventually.



If after you’ve tried all 4 steps you’re still not getting your ideas approved, then you’ll either have to step up your campaign and settle in for a long educational campaign to change the company culture, or you might want to consider updating that CV.


What did I miss? What has worked for you in the past?

UX Consultant Emma Peters

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