Budgeting: The Art Of Show Vs. Tell

Knowledge / Inspiration

Budgeting: The Art Of Show Vs. Tell

Continuous Design
UXDX Europe 2018

Knowing when to ask for budget or how to get it is the work of developing justification, long hours of discussion, relentless persuasion, and often confusing and disappointing. In this process, we often forget how to apply human-centered design approach and mindset to make the budget process more effective and supportive. In this session, how investing and building a culture and capability of pre-visualization and rapid prototyping helps generate a demand for design capacity from business stakeholders while promoting a design-driven way of working in organization.

All right. Good afternoon everyone! If you noticed, I'm the second speaker who is using the podium today, we just try to break the pattern. But the topic I'm going to talk about is Budgeting, which is a really fun topic. I'd like to ask you a question. How many of you are in a position to actually be responsible for a budget?

All right, there's some... Okay, it's not bad. So then those who didn't raise their hand, you don't care about budget? Is that what it is? Budgeting is tough, right? And when I asked to talk about this... My entire presentation was about 5 slides because that's all there is to get the budget that you need. And I extend it to fit into 25 minutes. So this is where you're going to come in to help me to fill the gap.

I have to show that as a company policy, so now, I'm going to start with this. Does anybody recognize this buddy? Or I shouldn't say buddy, but this person?

Audience 1: Aristotle.

Right. He's Aristotle, right? One of the greatest Greek philosophers. Now, what does he have to do with, the guy that by the way, 2000 years ago, right? What does it have to do anything with Budgeting? Anybody can take a wild guess. By the way, those of you in the front row, you're my go-to to answer the questions. So, anybody, this is very important, because if you don't get it, you lose the rest of the presentation.

Okay, it's good enough. The reason that he's relevant is that he is almost a founder of this whole thought of persuasion, right. His philosophies around persuading you to do something that he wants people to do. And at the end, the day, the Budgeting, whether you want to get budget, or you're going to give to someone as a budget, it's all about persuasion, right? So far so good. And to make sure that you believe what I'm about to tell you. And there's a sort of rhetoric of principles that he has shared over the 2000 years ago. And those are around 3 principles, which I'm going to build the rest of the presentation around.

  1. The first one is around Ethos, or translation in this context of budgeting Credibility.

  2. The second thing is about Logos or Logic, again, in the context of budgeting.

  3. And the last one that he talked about was Pathos, which is Emotions.

Now, these three things are very important that it's not just about Budgeting, but everything that we do, as designers, I assume, in this room, where if you're not sure you should be in this other room. But this is very important. And I'm going to tell them a lot of stories and case studies about how this Ethos and Logos and Pathos are so profound, relational, the thing that you have to keep in mind in getting into a Budgeting Conversation, and the type of budget that you need to get to the things that you need to do.

So, let me dig into the first one, about "Credibility", right within the credibility, there are two things I'm going to talk to you about that too many of you is straightforward, but it's very important to know how this is relevant, and how you can interpret that into your actions.

So first of all, let's talk about Reputation. How many of you think honestly, that you really have a reputation? Thank you for your bravery. There's a few that the reason that you didn't raise your hand is because of what?

Okay, that's one way. But be honest. Come on this little interactive, I need to consume the 25 minutes I have. But your honesty is a really important dialogue.

Audience 2: Ego.

Okay, that you think that you're better than others, but you didn't have to raise your hand?

**Audience 2: **No.

The other way around? But what's good about this, the reputation is this... It's one of those topics that you have little control over. Meaning that you may think you have a reputation or you may not have a reputation doesn't matter. What matters is, is that people next to you, is going to perceive you one way or the other, whether you like it or not, and they will form their opinion about you. And that becomes reputation. That's the really sad reality. However, in the context of Budgeting is incredibly important for you to build a reputation. So what you need to do now is, forget about your past. Five seconds ago, those who didn't raise your hand, now it's time for you to act at the present time, that you to think something different about it. So when I asked you a question, you know, a few minutes in this presentation, you want to participate, and you want to raise your hand and you want to answer questions. That's how you rebuild your reputation.

Pretty straightforward it's just that your ego or the mindset is in the way, to get what you need to get to. All right? So far, so good.

Now, I'm going to tell the story to build on my assertion.

Another question. Anybody recognize these two logos?

Okay, so top one is I think as a** Frog,** the bottom one is AKQA.

What do they have in common with my talk here? Other than they're one of the top 10 global design innovation agencies around the world? Can anybody guess? Well, it has to do with these two people.

On the top is Patricia, who's a former founder and CEO of Frog. The bottom is a guy named Jeff Norscot, who's managed a lot of studios for AKQA usually in Europe, in Asia. The reason that I use them as an example for reputation is this....

When I moved from San Francisco to London, to build up a new design function for Visa, from my global role that I kind of put aside, I met a lot of people, because I really didn't know Europe. I've been here many times, but I've never lived here before. So I had to connect with a lot of people there, who can give me some sort of guidance. And Patricia, one who I met in San Francisco. And she goes, Kevin, "When you go to London, you must (she used the word 'must') meet this guy, Jeff". And I said, "Who is this guy?" And she goes, "Well, he runs a few offices for AKQA", as soon as I heard AKQA, anybody who works for AKQA here? No, good.

I had this allergic reaction because I just did not want to work with AKQA. Now, however, I'm working with him right now. So that's the flip side of the story. The reason is, she came with a highly credible reputation in the world of design, anybody who, in the design world, should recognise her name, or the agency that she came from, or she found with her husband. And so I met the guy. Long story short, he really had another reputation, I did not know about... His regional reputation, not global, but that's something that I was really sold on it.

So the point I'm trying to make here is this, you have to do the homework, but sometimes it's reciprocal, you may be the receiving end of budget. Or you may be the one that gives the budget. But you have to do the homework of understanding who that person is. The reason that Jeff impressed me a lot is he actually studied my LinkedIn profile from top to bottom. And he really asked a lot of questions that really, honestly, strangers wouldn't care, from like my school to my first job, to some of the LinkedIn articles I wrote. I mean, he literally spent time to really get to know me. And that is something that investment that you need to do to regain or rebuild your reputation. Because there's two-way street, right?

The second sort of lesson learn about reputation, is that you have to request an introduction. Now those people in the position have this what they called a "Social Circle", right? Professionally, socially, they have a circle, and you need to get into their circle somehow. That's the number one task for you to either gain or regain your reputation. And that starts with a really authentic, the kind of conversation that you need to have, and then through that, you get connections that more than you could ever get in LinkedIn, for example. That I'm sure a lot of you're spending time today and tomorrow, connecting with one or another. That's okay. But try to build that introduction through another person that you know, reputable. Right?

And lastly, it's about the "making a long first impression" those of you who have dated someone, you know what I'm talking about making that impression first time is going to guarantee you for at least another date, if not marriage, if not forever, happily ever after, right? So that's pretty straightforward. But let's get into some complicated topics.

The other thing that matters is the Ethos or Credibility. It's about demonstrating your credibility. Now, let me ask another question, I just talked about reputation. Does anybody see a correlation between reputation and credibility?

This is a tough one that I need to make sure that... Yes, you can raise your hand, so you better speak.

So reputation is all about relationship or relational, right? And it is about how you actually build your credibility. Credibility, on the other hand, is actually what you do basically achievement and things that you are capable of. Right?

Now, the reason that it's important to discern but only also focusing on that is this; what does all this brand have in common?

You can speak up... They’re companies, yes, they’re companies. Now, these are the companies that I have worked for in the past 20 years. Okay. The reason that I mentioned this isn't so much about me trying to show that I came from all these different backgrounds. It's about how I failed every single company that I worked for at least once. And then how I, however, regained, rebuilt that credibility. And the way you do this is pretty simple. You have to be honest about the failures you did. And oftentimes, we are the type of professions that are trained to talk about accomplishment, right, in your head, when you talk about.... The gentlemen on the front talked about the ego, we have so much ego that the last thing you want to talk about is the failures that you have. But on the other hand, failure is what makes you make a very strong candidate for something the next job is looking for.

And so that's one thing that I've really learned from all these companies is, there are traps that you're going to fall into. And what the leadership is looking for who's about to trust you for budget, is that demonstrating that humility, that you are the human being, you have shortcomings of it, but you can now demonstrate how you can do better with those failures that you have.

And so those are three sorts of lessons that you need to take away from this one. Other than all these companies that you may want to hope in the future work for is; you're going to Build a very strong portfolio. And this is something that I talked to a lot of people about how.... Sometimes you go into other industries, right? I don't know where you come from, all different backgrounds. But when you think about staying in the one industry, for example, those of you who work in ecommerce, you probably don't want to leave the commerce world, whether it's because it’s one of the hottest industries, or where you're comfortable. But I encourage you to actually take a leap of faith and go to random industry, whether it's Health Care, whether it is IoT, whether it's Service Sector, because that's how you build a portfolio, not within the verticals that you're going to be there for 20 years. And there's nothing wrong with that, by the way, I'm not making any points across other than if you're going to build a portfolio to build a reputation and credibility. Sometimes the easiest way is just to go to a very different industry and gain 2, 3, 5 years, and then come back. Because when you come back, you become very incredibly competent, someone that company is going to want to and therefore trusting you for all the administrative stuff, including budgeting that you need to really do manage for organizations.

And the second thing is really about Developing your personal brand. As I said before, this is really about how your style of communicating or how you interact with each other. It's really about how it's become foundational to build your credibility and reputation. And so for example, a lot of people, myself included, make a bunch of mistakes. I think some of the presentations earlier, maybe it was you that talked about from don't hide behind the email. If I relayed that message, email is one form of either fast track, or derailer, for you to build credibility. We often misuse email as a sort of revenge or as a way of defending ourselves. But that also leaves a trace. So if you want to really build credibility, keep the email very short. To his point, pick up the phone, have a face to face conversation, and don't leave a trace because once you leave the trace is really hard to regain that type of credibility. Okay, that's one thing that you can probably do it right away, stop emailing each other and then start picking up the phone.

The last one is about removing any feeling of doubt. As I said before, this is all about failure. You all have experienced failure; you might have failed yesterday before you came to this conference. And you feel down, you want to talk to some speakers and presenters about some tips and guidance. But the fact of the matter is because you failed, or you didn't quite succeed as you want it to be, you're now a much stronger person than yesterday. So embrace the failure, be honest, talk about why you made a mistake because no one's going to penalize you for being honest. And that's the one thing that is very important to build credibility. Okay.

Now, the next thing is about logic, right? And it's about being very specific, what do you want, and this is something that a lot of people are asking for. And I'll give you a really quick story. This is a person, I'm not going to quiz with you because you probably don't know this person, it's Kerry one of my top designers that I have used to work with over three different companies so far. She can be one day, those of you who work in the commerce world, like a marketplace, few like eBay's and Amazon world, she came to me saying one day, "Kevin, I need half a million, and give me two months. And I will show you what this new marketplace needs to look like that we can actually build it," quite daunting. The principal designer comes to you with that type of money. And the duration is something that you kind of think, crazy, but I believed it. And she, long story short, succeeded immensely to the point where the current marketplace, you've seen the ebay.com is a somewhat indirect result of her work.

The point I'm trying to make here is very simple. When someone makes you a request, either both a requester or budget receiver and then when they're being very precise and very concise. Trust them. They know what they're doing. If someone comes to you with elaborated slides of PowerPoints, and they try to convince you, don't trust them. Because they don't know what they're doing. And that's exactly how the industry works. Because most of the stuff that you're working on today, you are not the first one. That is one of the things that we have to take away. You're not the first one who's working on it. So why are you elaborating a lot of things that you can easily be concise about by pulling things from the places that people have done for you?

Number two is about, again, Convey a clear demand. Again, she came to me with an unforgettable number that I really felt like there was like almost half of my budget to have to give to one person for that two months. So what I'm going to do with the rest of 10 months, but again, when the specific demand is clear, that means that that person understands how and therefore the someone who's about to decide whether to give out the budget or not, tends to pull towards that magnet that this person brings to the table. So it's not about the passion, it is about being clear about the demand that you're asking for.

By the way, this is about also understanding how you can chunk it. So when she could have asked for 1 million, she chunk it down to half a million, because she knew that what she can deliver with other products and other researchers in the company. So it's about understanding and being pragmatic about it.

Last thing, it's about, you know, Highlight what is at stake? Again, the reason that I was convinced is that we at the time and eBay marketplace was a really stinking experience, those of you who remember back in the early 1990s. And so it was pre daunting that we had to do something about it. No one was doing anything about it. Product Team was a little bit conservative, talking about incremental A/B testings. So we as a design needed to take a leap of faith. And there was pre obvious betting that we needed to do, which fortunately kind of panned out.

Another example of logic or principles is; this is a very important lesson for me. And this is the number one question that everyone asks. If you come to anybody with a hey, I need anywhere from 50 grand to 500 grand. That's what they're asking number one in their head, what's in for me, I hear you. But it what's in for me.... So not so much just selfish the response. But this is one of the examples of demonstrating the API's, you know, those who you're familiar with API's. We as a Visa is a platform with a bunch of API's, anyone can build on top of it, to create a commerce and payment experience. IDN is one of the customers that we are working closely with, which no one understands the API. They really understand like consumer experience, but they don't know how to translate it. So what we did was we actually basically built this a prototype that out of all the API's that we can consume as a Visa, and we built into a very beautiful experience that actually helps clients, both internal team to understand what is it that we actually try to communicate to the world and that is the very simple part of the lessons learned. And it is really about;

Number one, Visualize wherever possible... You know, if you're designers, you need to use the mockups, or prototype as your primary language to not fall into the same language that a product team is using, or developers are using. You are that artistic value that you need to use for maximum benefit.

Second one Honesty. When we did this one, we didn't claim that we know all the API's. So we actually invited all the product folks to actually help us understand what those API's are doing in terms of consumer experience, and then we translate it quickly as possible. Okay.

And lastly, make the decision easy by building a business prototype, that's the fastest way to actually make someone make a decision whether to go or no go, doesn't matter, the consequences of it, your job is to help someone to make a decision faster. And that's how the principles kind of come in.

Another one about I'm moving into the last one, which is the Emotions or the Pathos familiarity is another key one, and this isn't something that I think most of you know how to do this one, but I'm going to reiterate the importance of it. This is our president Ryan McNary. He's standing in front of 3000 of our clients, so like a Google IO type for Visa. And he's showing the prototype vision that we as a design team have built, the reason that he chose to show it, is this wasn't on the product roadmap, but he showed all the clients of the world. The reason he did it is that he saw how compelling it is, that a helps build familiarity; familiarity of language, familiarity of strategies. So he actually chose to use it in front of all the 3000 clients that he was hosting.

And that's another power of how building that familiar language, not so from a design perspective, but from a business perspective. And this is oftentimes we are shying away from, oh, I don't need to know business jargons, I don't understand the business strategy. In fact, you have to actually embrace that first before you actually start talking about the value of design, design thinking and all the things that come with the profession.

So the quick lessons learned here is very simple things use a common language. But it's not a design language I'm talking about, it's is a business language I'm talking about. So we need to use a business language consistently with a stakeholder to make sure that they open up their wallet.

Number two, use prototypes. How many of you actually use a prototype as your only way of communicating, very few hands, I challenge you to use a prototype, before you communicate with a PowerPoint or Keynote with a bunch of words. If you're a designer, you have to use the language that you know how to use the best, because that language is the one that connects emotion to emotion and heart to heart. So don't rest on the other language that you're not quite familiar with.

And lastly, Build stories around real people. We often talk about human-centred design, user-centred design. That's important. But your stakeholders are also very important, if not the most important human being that you ever need to care about before you go to the consumers. Because if they don't listen to you, nothing matters to you anyway, from that company perspective. So what we did was we actually always include our president Ryan as a persona. And then we actually built the things around him that we understand how he sticks with a story. And then we also iterate along the way that not necessarily about building a final product but trying to get to that budget stage that we really need the most.

Make Yes, the only answer and this is one way to do this, they should build a design system. I'm going to show that just quick two minute videos and I know I’m running out of time.

Okay, so I know I'm over time. So I'm going to wrap it up with this one message here.

Be sure that what you saw is internally done full house. And that demonstrates both conventional prototypes, API's and a design system. And I know we talk a lot about design systems. But if you don't have a design system in place, I really, really urgently ask you to start investing your money and effort to build that first. Because without it, none of those budget conversations can ever happen. Because I think today what people are asking is how I'm going to scale that.

Okay, I hear you from designers, you asking for, you know, one headcount to help build this out. But how am I going to scale to all my 200 products? That's what budget holders are asking for. And the only way to justify is unfortunate, this point is a design system. So with that... Before I get kicked out of the stage, I just want to leave three thoughts. And again, I kind of rushed through it. I guess I lied that it didn't take me 15 minutes, but rather the entire 30 minutes. But this is really important and I might not have delivered as quite effective I wanted to but I want to challenge you to leave this room with these three philosophies or principles that I want you to apply to it because these are things that are not just for budgeting, but your own professions and the contribution that you can make from a design perspective. So with that, thank you so much.