Facilitating design is hard. I think the hardest part is keeping to the scope of design goals in questions. Design based on user goals is much different than design based on technical requirements. In the early stages of design, it’s important to have as many stakeholders present as possible in order to understand their perspectives as well as any constraints they may provide, and constraints are good. Constraints help to narrow down from all design possibilities into a few or even one design possibility. Unfortunately, with many perspectives comes added difficulty to facilitating design.
In some projects, the only stakeholders who are consulted on design are the clients. In my world, clients are stakeholders as well as the IT organization who designs the solutions. This means in one high level design meetings, people are present who passionately care about user goals, user activities, user efficiency, etc as well as people who passionately care about the work flow management platform and the input and output it can give to order management systems.
It’s very useful to have the technical stakeholders present, because no one wants to provide requirements that require more resources than are available. We all have the same goal to make the company successful, even if our individual goals are more nuanced. My goal is that users can use systems in successful and happy ways. My data counterpart’s goal is that the application delivers data in an allotted amount of time. Both of our goals are important to the success of the project. Or, as another example, one client may prioritize one aspect of user behavior, and another client may prioritize another.
Stephen Anderson put together an amazing User Experience Hierarchy of Needs (links directly to PDF) which he talks about briefly inSeductive Interaction Design (also a recommended read). In the hierarchy, the base level is Functional and the top level is Meaningful. Different people approach design from those two extremes and the result for the end user is drastically different depending from which point (function or meaning) design was driven.
The individuals whose priorities are anchored at these two different extremes are the individuals who will clash most during initial stages of design. Depending on the agreed upon priority, either meaningful user experience or functionality, initial design stages will need to fascinated such that the design reflects those priorities. Which is then the really hard part. Helping the people who prioritize other aspects have their perspectives translated into design strategies that are relevant to the project at hand.