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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: I once had a mentor tell me that stories build in strength with retelling. I never forgot this. Every time you plant an important idea into someone's head, you invite the opportunity for that story to be told and retold. When you design for a broad context, you allow that story to build as you move it through an organization, and allow that idea to grow. Whether you walk the hallways or listen to your colleagues, the idea is that it's never your idea.
Stories build in strength with retelling. Stories build in strength with retelling. Michael Gough: Good designers are naturally quite convincing, because all they are really doing is bringing consensus to things, bringing consensus to the creation of things. And that's not as simple as asking everybody what they want and then making it. You have to understand what that context is. That context could be things that are completely outside of the room that you're in.
It's the broader context of who is going to use the thing, what culture it's being designed in. What other things are being designed at that time? It's that broad context. If you solve for the broad context, usually you get the right design. Albert Tan: I think one of the most important things with any designer is to realize that they don't exist in a bubble. One of the most important skills that I've learned is to really socialize. Tim Barber: I think the most important thing for selling a creative idea is having a great story.
I mean storytelling is really valuable for communicating in general, but when you're selling an idea, it's great to have a story that has kind of air of inevitability about it. It's the kind of thing that other people can take away from your meetings and use to sell other people. Diana Williams: When it comes to socializing an idea, I think it's very rare that I am ever doing it in a larger audience. I usually try to hit smaller audiences in a smaller group of people first, because then you can kind of gauge what the temperature is, how interested people are in a specific idea.
Ryan Tandy: Face time, spending time with people is probably the most important thing you can do--is being right with somebody at their desk or out in the world. Albert Tan: Take out and go to the lunch with the engineer. Go to lunch with the PM. Get to know people personally. The reason why I think that's important for a designer who is trying to push an idea forward is you start to learn their personal interests and passions. Once you understand that, you can communicate in a way that they might be more open to your ideas.
Ryan: While you spend some time at somebody's desk outside of a meeting, even in the hallway, or at the water cooler, so to speak, I feel like that's where you can really start like hearing people's objections to things so you can have an exchange. Albert: Once you have sort of a collective knowledge of the different personalities and the people around you, when you have something where you're kind of questioning, they become allies in many ways, because you are able to approach them very early on in some of the foundational thinking, and not only do they field that you respect them in and admire them for their opinions, but they will in turn help you.
Tim: The idea needs to have some kind of probable outcome. Like, you need to be able to project reasonably what will happen if you execute well on the idea. So in this way it's like you can make the thing in inherently viral by giving people the story by which to talk about it. Michael: Never make it your idea. That might apply to absolutely everybody. Everything you're doing around building consensus for an idea or building enthusiasm around the idea is never reinforce the point that it was your idea.
Ryan: Whenever you get to a point where some kind of conversation there's conflict or people have different ideas about a project, or where it needs to go, we'll break it out. We will say, "Okay, let's table that one thing." Let's only get the people that are really important for that decision to be made and go have that separate. We can really bring it later once we have a decision. Michael: One of the biggest traps is you find yourself defending your idea, or you find yourself in a room full of people defending their ideas.
They want so bad to be the one that thought it, and it's just such a barrier to accomplishing anything.
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