Argue more! The importance of disagreement in design

Argue more! The importance of disagreement in design

Argue more! The importance of disagreement in design

Fowlam’s CRO, Dr. Michael Brown, has nearly a decade of experience in user research and has worked on a range of diverse projects, with many different types of teams. Here he talks about the importance of disagreement in moving a project forward.

Over the years I’ve found that one key sign that a project is going badly is that people stop disagreeing with each other.  Everyone puts their heads down and does their work in a little bubble of denial, pretending everything is going well. Conversations are universally positive, head-nodding exercises (often caused by phenomenon known as groupthink, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink).  A few weeks later the smelly stuff hits the fan as the various parts of the project don’t come together or user research comes back with a damning verdict on the project outcomes.

The way I see it, a good team thrives on meaningful discussion. Given the complexity of most modern technology projects, meaningful discussion inevitably means that people will disagree about some aspects of the project.  The productive way to use this disagreement is to talk it through, properly, and come up with a plan of action. If people just ‘go along’ with a course of action they disagree with instead of talking about it, the chances are the team is in a bad state and lines of communication are not open. Voices aren’t heard, ideas are lost, morale goes down and the project is in danger of failing.

Without research, disagreements can easily turn into unproductive ego wrestling. Providing insights to build disagreements into evidence-based debates is one of the core roles of a user researcher.  The best teams I have worked with are hungry for user research to feed ongoing discussions about the best way to design this or implement that, with the researcher providing both evidence and opinion to help reach the best solution.

When was the last time you had a genuine disagreement with your team?

If you would like Fowlam’s experienced team to move your software project forward, give us a call on 0779 4607431 or email francesbrown@fowlam.com.

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