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In Pitching Projects and Products to Executives, author Dane Howard interviews executives and product managers from renowned design firms and corporations like Google, Apple, and Adobe, who share their insider take on how to effectively move projects and product ideas forward. Video and multimedia producer Richard Koci Hernandez weaves the interviews together into a captivating visual narrative. The soft skills course shows the practical techniques, processes, and communication styles employed to sell to executives more effectively, and to bring ideas to life.
(Music playing.) Dane Howard: There are many obstacles to getting an idea or project off the ground. Naysayers may feel like an obstacle--don't take the bait. Your emotional control and ability to bring them along will give you insight to build better arguments and plan to move the idea effectively forward. Rob Girling: Yeah, the bane of our lives are the people who--status quo is great.
The naysayers are sort of the like very much the bait for me. So I have to really control myself sometimes, emotionally, to not take the bait. Ryan Tandy: More than anything, anybody who has an objection to your idea, you should listen to him. You should always hear to what they have to say because probably you are going to learn something. Diana Williams: A lot of times naysayers actually have a perspective and a point of view, and it's really important to understand what that perspective is, where are they coming from, trying to address to that need. A lot of times I try to get that feedback ahead of time, even before meeting with them, talking to their friends, their acquaintances, their colleagues, to understand what is the crust of the issue.
So then you can formulate your point of view and your perspective. Charles Warren: Ask questions, like "I am not sure I have the whole picture here, and I know you know about this--like, does this make sense?" Bring them into the design process. Ryan: It's weird because it can be political. It can be driven by marketing, by cost, performance; there are all these variables that may get in the way of a good design. So you may have to sacrifice for one of those many, many things.
This past year I have learned that over and over and over. There are so many times where I have something presented or something ready, and we go to look at it, talking about how it can it be built. "You can't build that." I said, "Really?" It's like, okay. You learn, over time, how to pick your battles. Albert Tan: The other thing also is just to confront people directly. If they say, "Oh, I don't like your idea," just kind of make a mental note of that and then rather than in a public situation sort of challenge them, take them out to lunch or meet them afterwards for dinner or for drinks or something.
You may find that they turn out to be your biggest ally. Diana: Now there are times where a naysayer doesn't change their mind. But if you have enough consensus with other team members, sometimes that naysayer will actually go, "You might agree to disagree," but still move forward anyway. Other times, they will just go along for the ride, and hopefully it will be the right decision. There have been probably several projects and a naysayer actually came up and said, "If we actually broaden it out or took a different perspective, we could actually hit a larger group and a larger audience." So just going back and then reinvestigating that, we actually expanded out the project, and it wasn't that they were trying to actually fully crush the initiative; they are just trying to say "take a different angle, so we can actually even get more return on that investment." Albert: There was a time when one of our executives had first purchased an iPhone and was very enamored by the packaging and how it was presented.
At the same time, we were also starting to think about, what is the impression that we want our product to have on consumers? For a long time, they didn't quite understand that importance because, as a company, we were very technology focused than engineering focused. So, at the moment though, he was not in his engineering moment; he was very much in a consumer moment. So, taking advantage of that time and going in while he was in that moment made him much more open.
Diana: Sometimes if you know people have very different opinions, you might actually choose to have two different meetings rather than bringing everyone into one. If it's going to be a highly controversial topic, sometimes if it's a very big project, I might have ten different meetings independently with individual people to kind of talk about their issues, kind of get them bought in on the idea, and the concept, make sure that I can lead them down kind of on a certain path, that I can enter their key questions before getting into the larger group.
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