What can UXers Learn From Rudolph?

In the spirit of Christmas we can draw inspiration from the story of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. There will be many a red-cheeked youngster singing this very song between now and Christmas day so maybe we can take something away from the story.

In many large organisations, design and UX don’t fit naturally with traditional business functions. Sure, Rudolph didn’t apply for a job in a corporate firm, but he did complete an important job for the big guy—the leader, Saint Nick.

But Rudolph was different. He was misunderstood by his peers, an outcast. No one (and no deer) could see his use to Saint Nick on his important mission.

Despite being the outsider, Rudolph didn’t let this stand in his way when an opportunity arose. He realised that the things that made him different, whilst the cause for ridicule and suspicion from his peers, were what gave him the opportunity to succeed where his fellow deer could not. 

Like that foggy Christmas Eve, UXers operate in markets where businesses are facing greater external pressures than ever before. Pressure from tough markets, cynical and information-rich customers and new aggressive competitors. This creates an environment where customer-centric innovation is crucial. Just look at success stories like Xero and Uber, which have set new benchmarks for customer expectations in their industries. They have challenged the status quo and traditional thinking of the large market leaders by using UX and customer centricity to gain competitive advantage.

So when the opportunity arose, Rudolph took on a challenge where his colleagues had previously failed. With his unique skills and perspective he helped Saint Nick get back on track.

Through his success, Rudolph was able to able to turn his detractors into advocates. This highlights how important actions are. People are quick to forget their suspicions of things they don’t understand when the results are positive. Through our customer-centric work practice and our ability to solve business problems, we can take advantage of the opportunities to positively influence organisations.

The beauty of this story is that the reason Rudolph was shunned—his odd nose—was the very thing that allowed him to excel in his role. Our UX teams can help guide organisations through the fog, when facing new external challenges, by utilising our unique skill sets, to not only be useful but to facilitate commercial success.

Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is the Director and Principal Consultant of Nomat, a UX research and strategy firm. With almost 15 years experience he brings a pragmatic and sensible approach to UX that delivers improved ROI from design. Away from UX, Chris chases his little monkeys around and gets out on his pushy.

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