When Deciders are not Users

by | Oct 15, 2019 | Change |

This photo came into my twitter feed and made me laugh. Unfortunately it is a common reality.

The creator and seller of the cot mobile knew that s/he need to please adults (parents or whoever is buying it) more than the baby. By making it look good to the adults, sales would be better. And, as the cartoon illustrator hints at with her headings, we do this all the time.

As you know, I often write about the need to know what problem you are trying to solve (the trickiest P). Being clear on the problem and the purpose is critical. At the same time, for change to happen it is also critical to be clear on ‘who decides?’ For many civil society organisations, including humanitarians, it is the stakeholders not the users. It is rarely the beneficiaries or even the frontline staff, it is most often others.

And yes, I know there is change that happens ‘bottom up’ and at the grassroots. I am not discounting this. However, regardless of where the change begins, understanding who makes decisions is vital for success. Otherwise we pitch our ideas to stakeholders using logic and stories that connect with the user. And it is a mismatch.

Therefore, know your audience. Do the work. Be clear on the problem, but also the decision makers.

The choice is ours to make. And it’s your turn.


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