5 Tips for navigating internal politics

Lets just talk about the thing no one wants to talk about. Were going to have to do it some time, right?

NOTE to all of our clients: This is not about you. We love you. Hugs.??

When we work on a big web project, we have to make little and big decisions with different people in differen roles??almost every day. Sometimes its a real pain in the ass and other times its smooth sailing. No matter which, we have to create ways to make decisions, get buy-in from staff, get approvals from people not directly involved in the whole process and try to mitigate feedback that could derail a project. In 10 years of doing design for a huge range of clients, weve fallen on our faces more than once. Every time we do, we figure out what went wrong and never do it again.

Here are five tactics we use to keep things moving and the decision-making process crystal clear. We use them as project management tools and they’re also great for navgiating your murky swamp of office??politics.

1. Use software

We use Basecamp and now were moving to Redbooth to track and manage projects. Using software can be great because its unemotional, most of the project management software out there has a calendar and you can assign tasks to people. You can see only what youre responsible for as well as the big picture. When you rely on meetings and individuals to write down their own tasks, something is going to be missed.

2. Get buy-in early

When we work with a group of people, we do the strategic heavy lifting in the beginning. We make sure that we have all of the right people in the room at the very beginning. That means if you know theres one board member who is going to derail a project, get them involved right away.

3. Make it clear who makes decisions

One person needs to own the project. That person will have the most insight, the most knowledge and the best handle on the strategy. Other peoples opinions are great, but this person needs to be able to make the best decisions for the health of the project. Not for her own personal satisfaction or to appease a loud co-worker, but the best decision for the project. This person needs to have the authority to actually make the decision, too.

4. Get incremental sign-offs

When we do large projects, we have documents during the initial strategy phase that each have their own sign-off. That keeps things moving along. So when we get into building and were thrown a request for something else, something new or something bigger than we planned on, its a new scope. The important thing here is to keep moving. One of the best (and worst) things about web design is that it can change all the time. Its so important to decide on something and keep moving. Otherwise, we could spend all of our budget going back and refining.

5. Understand communication??styles

Lets face it: We all make decisions in different ways. You might have someone on the team who can make them quickly and always wants to keep moving. You might have someone who needs to call her friend and get her advice for everything. Sometimes you might have someone on your team who needs a lot of time and research to deliberate. Those peoples processes need to be baked into your project timeline and process. Not everyone is like you, so make sure you give others what they need so they can feel comfortable with what theyre responsible for.

What have you tried that has or hasnt worked? Id love to hear about it.

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