If you’re designing for an organization, then other people, stakeholders, will be involved. Often, they will pull in different directions creating friction that slows progress. If things get bad enough, the project will fail.

To keep things moving, it’s tempting to allow each one to have a say on the design. This shows that you’re listening and keeps them onboard. In truth, no one likes this game. Everyone despises “design by committee.” Everyone knows the result is always a muddle of ideas and compromises that is hard to fathom—the opposite of simplicity.

Nevertheless, listening and accommodating stakeholders’ constraints makes for a better, sustainable design. Stakeholders have important agendas and real problems to tackle.

They must live with the consequences of your design. We all dream about designing as a dictator, but this is childish fantasy.

Don’t seek agreement through bartering and compromise; seek it through alignment. If everyone feels they are working toward a common goal, friction eases, and the right solution becomes clear to all.

“While stakeholders have personal and professional agendas, there is one point of view on which they should all align: doing what’s right for the organization’s end user.

Marketing wants to promote the product, to create happy users. Legal wants to ensure compliance, to avoid litigious users. Technology wants to develop robust solutions, to create satisfied users. The design is where their agendas meet the user.

The answer, then, is to align them around a vision based on the end user’s real needs. Just don’t expect them to recognize those needs easily.

“Stakeholders spend so much time living in their silos that their views of the end user can become twisted to suit their agendas. They’re not willfully wrong; they are blinded by circumstances. And you will be blinded, too. Everyone needs to open their eyes.

So bring stakeholders to meet the end user and discover the vision for themselves. Do this, and the friction and politics will ease.