You can lead a horse to water


We’ve all heard that one I’m sure. I’m running into a bit of it right now.

As you know, I’ve finally been able after three years to get management on board with the value of a solid UX program. I’m nervous about it in the first place, due to the fact that I pushed so hard and i really need it to show value. My issue is that I work within a military environment. Almost 100% of the users are military. In many cases they are saying they do not have time for interviews, brainstorming, user testing etc. Without those things, my chances of success start to decrease considerably. What’s the best way to get them to see that this process is ultimately for them?


This is something that I come across a lot in community management. People are ‘too busy’ to participate. The reality is that they’re not too busy – they’re just not motivated. I bet they find time to check Facebook occasionally.

You need to figure out what their values are and then use that to persuade them. Eg are they an audience that is motivated by helping others (benevolence)? Or by advancing their careers (achievement)? Or power and authority? Once you figure that out, you can speak in language that will resonate with them.


So, so true. I hate the thought that I have to go through a senior officer to make them come here though. It’s nice when someone shares your vision and understand that you’re ultimately trying to help them overcome obstacles. Fantasy land I suppose. I’ll work harder on finding the motivation. That’s great advice. :slight_smile:


I think you’re hitting rather close to the mark here. Ulitimately, you’ll need to find out what it is your potential UX partners will ultimately gain from the process. This speaks to the concept of UX Evangelism that you’ll often here thrown around haphazardly.

Greg Nudelman explains the concept of UX Evangelism rather well when he says that

…the good news is that the entire situation is completely in your hands. You, the UX professional, hold all the cards and have all the power. If you can prove to the business people, on their terms, that usability improvements will help them meet their monetary goals, those improvements will get implemented every single time. Organizational challenges are there simply so you can prove how much you want to implement improvements."

Most levels of the military aren’t concerned with monetary and budgetary goals, so the goals you’ll likely need to speak to are operational. You’ll need to spend some time thinking about specific UX projects, and how to explain to your different potential users (likely broken down by rank and system interaction) the value proposition of the specific project, and why their participation is important.

I’d also spend some time just listening carefully for people complaining about bad UX, and take note. When it comes time to convince those same people about the value of good UX, you’ll have some additional ammunition at your disposal. While I wouldn’t use other people’s words against them, you can use them as a reminder of why your work is important or to draw paralells between other UX problems and your current project.