Design education and practice mainly focusses on the craft of design, innovation and creative thinking. However, in the real world it is often our relationship with our “sponsors” (clients, bosses, internal departments, etc) that makes or breaks projects. We have all seen projects that failed not because of a lack of design skill or innovative thinking, but because the outcome was not on target to solve the problem, or the problem on the table was not the right one to focus on.
In the UX community and the language of design thinking we have started to talk more and more about the importance of empathy, context and iterative validation as ways of being more in tune with user needs in a creative innovation process. We can apply many of the same skills and learnings from those approaches to managing clients and other stakeholders in order to create a space in which it is possible to do great work.