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How to Achieve Project Buy-In Without Opening the Floodgates

In 2016, Britain’s National Research Council allowed the public to suggest a name for a new $287 million polar research ship. Suggested names like Shackleton and Endeavor quickly lost ground to the public’s most popular choice, RMS Boaty McBoatface. The public loved Boaty McBoatface so much they crashed the website. The National Research Council quickly overrode the results of their contest, and named the ship the RMS Sir David Attenborough, to the public’s despair. The NRC eventually caved to pressure and named the ship’s submersibles Boaty McBoatface. The moral of this story is that inviting the public into decision making can have mixed results. But without buy-in from users, the project may not address all of the district’s needs.

LaBella’s Project Visualization process (pictured in our Rochester, NY office with the Webster Central School District) allows representatives from the student body, faculty, and staff to participate in focus group sessions (led by our design team) that use a series of exercises and benchmarked project images to identify project priorities, desired features, and intangible qualities like mood and feeling. The process strengthens the client team’s ability to make future decisions as the exercises bring consensus around an articulated vision.