Finding A UX Champion with Research Bait

I hear a lot about the needs of finding a UX champion high in your company’s org but no one ever talks about how to get one. I have found that my process works and it’s repeatable at every company where I’ve worked. It involves using research as bait! 

That’s not a typo. Research is the best bait to entice your potential champion to come out in the open and engage with you!

Juicy high-quality research works because it combines three components, if you’re doing it right.

3 Components of High-quality Research

  1. You validate something they already know and that makes you legitimate in their eyes.
  2. You validate something they suspect is true, which makes them feel smart. That makes you an authority in their eyes. 
  3. You inform them of something they didn’t know but they can trust it because of the previous two components. That makes you a valuable resource in their eyes.

It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, I got lucky with a UX champion in my current role and it still took six months to get to step 5 below. You’ve got to keep your eyes and ears open for the signs while still producing the high-quality work.

Steps to Finding and Converting a UX Champion

  1. Over-communicate
    • Invite all the stakeholders to engage in all the research meetings.
    • It’s important that you are the organizer of all the research-related meetings. Don’t tack on to the project manager or anyone else’s meetings. You are not just a contributor. You are a leader.
  2. Do kick-ass research (But that’s another blog post!) and create awesome presentations.
    • Always present your findings in a meeting. It gives you a chance to engage with your stakeholders.
    • During these presentations you’ll have a chance to identify the most engaged stakeholder. This is your champion candidate!
  3. Ask your champion candidate to further engage in research.
    • Include them your research notes distribution for each session.
    • Invite them to observe your research sessions. If they can’t attend, offer them links to the recordings, if you have them and can distribute them.
  4. Ask for a regular meeting with them to discuss future research opportunities—even 30 minutes once or twice a month is good.
    • Explain to them the importance of early discovery in research before the projects start.
    • Find out what’s upcoming and make sure you position yourself as a strategic asset in the success of future and ongoing projects.
  5. Look for signs that they’re evangelizing UX work—and especially research.
    • If you hear, other high-level stakeholders repeating UX-isms you told your champion candidate, you know it’s working.
    • If they come to engage you in an early discovery opportunity on a major project, you’ve got yourself a true UX Champion. Congratulations!
  6. Repeat with other champion candidates. Good luck!

This has worked for me. For years I came right up to step 3 but never engaged the stakeholders directly. Being passive just wasn’t getting me anywhere. Being proactive has opened many doors for me. Give it a try! 

I would love to hear your UX champion stories and tips.

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