All departments speak their own language, and they often times don’t see eye to eye on ideas even when they are working for the same goal. As designers, we need to be aware of this. There are a whole host of business reasons to not go through with that “new experience” that you or your team cooked up. But you can help to defeat those objections and gain team alignment if you know how to communicate to each other.

We all hear the languages that our fellow departments speak. Opportunity, framework, expense, structure, resources are terms that I hear constantly. Yet these terms mean different things to different people. Some teams understand code and help to advocate for dev. Other are business and analytics minded and they advocate for strict business objectives of profit. So how exactly do we negotiate our projects through a system that with have such varying degrees of understanding. Well, first we listen.

Listening to the other team with honest interest will do two things, one make them feel important, and two allow you to understand the project goals or hardships from a different point of view. I like to think of it as project critique, just like we get design concepts in front of users, we need to push our ideas to other teams and departments to test buy in and see what we are not seeing ourselves. Pay specific attention to what they are describing not just listening to what they saying. Many times different departments will be working on solving the same problem but from different directions. This leads us to the second point, forget about deliverables.

It is not just creatives that have deliverables. Other departments have standard practices and handoffs. If we can look past the deliverable to the goal trying to be accomplished we can then see the point of alignment. From there we look at what the strength of each department’s part in the goal. It is important to remember that we might be separate departments, but we all work for the same team. We need to remember that and shape the deliverables for the project to fit the goals.

Last and most important thing to remember is that sometimes your department may not be needed to move the needle forward. Just because I can come up with a path forward through web and interaction design, doesn’t mean that the company has to use my department. It is still success to have a supporting role in a cross department project.

Now I understand that these three things are simple in theory but can be complicated in practice. Learning to set your personal or departmental goals aside for the better decisions for the company can be difficult. Also reaching outside of your department may cause friction with others that are inside your departments. Learning a new language takes time. Start slow and practice often and do great work.

As always I hope that you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you would like to chat more about UX and UI design. Thanks!

Written by Steve Erro

I am a designer that is interested in how design, humans, and business interact with one another. I currently live and work in San Diego.

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