I think I kind of agree more with Alastair?
You ask these two thoughtful questions:
"If people already care about what you’re doing, why wouldn’t they actively listen to you?"
"If they know about what you did & why you did it, why wouldn’t they feel the urgency or importance already?"
Respectfully I feel both of these questions kind of miss the larger problem when it comes to ideas and team management (based on my experience). Companies are actually not often at a loss for good ideas. The more common case is that they have TOO MANY good ideas and no good WAY on how to 'prioritize' those ideas. Good businesses balance revenue with professional values. Mediocre companies pursue revenue like a chicken with its head removed. It's better to be dumb and rich than an unrequited genius begging for change. Of course it's better still to be both a genius and rich. Give it all away to charity if you'd like. Getting things done is the difference here.
People are intrinsically a part of the system after all. Actually, according to Conway's law they influence the system more than almost any other aspect. We're the weak fleshy link in the machine.
If you have an idea you believe is worth pursuing (lets polish the app!), but someone over in product marketing has another good idea (lets cut steps out of the sign-up flow to convert more inbound users!)... who do you staff up when you only have 2 developers and your busiest time of the year is 2 months away?
Communication, and even pitching, does matter to some degree. Good product people, designers included, would first question if product marketing's idea is truly the more important project. And if they believe their own idea (the designer's) is more important they should bring the subject up and explain why. I see this less as communication or pitching, and more as one's ability to influence the group to do the right thing, when the right thing may not be so obvious.
And yes, I believe designers are bad at it. They are also not consistently trained on project management either — which is a skill that can help those who aren't gifted with affluence on making the case for important work to get done in a bustling environment. Workshops are another great forum for designers to woo and impress upon people the value of well designed experiences. Figure out which venues and communication styles work for you and push them hard as a means to get your voice heard in the chorus. But I think this is to some degree pitching, even if the medium obfuscates the directness of it. The medium isn't always the message — sometimes the message is the message.
Just my 2 cents here. I enjoyed your article.
Hi @Andrew C, Thanks for your kind and interesting reply!
I think I agree with most of what you're saying and it seems to fit with most of what I'm saying in my article.
My point of contention is that Alastair poorly defines what he means by communication and end-up reducing it to “sales pitch” –which I conceded is a thing, but does not represent a large portion of what is communication.
I also agree that companies' problem is not a lack of ideas. Prioritization is important, and designers have indeed a great role to play in the process. But not as lone geniuses that know better what to do because they are designers. "Good" prioritization comes with "good" selection criteria, and the design process should provide business & devs with an important portion of them.
Making teams caring for your criteria, and therefore, the quality of your process is increasing the maturity of the company on design & UX. Doing so requires nuances and an understanding of the system & networks within. Influencing, convincing, etc. can be done in many ways. Selling is one way but focuses too much on the end result. Making others understanding the what, how, why requires more than that.
Anyway, thanks again, and glad that you liked the article!