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The Double Jab
Or how to guarantee your stakeholders really understand what they're asking you
Everyone looks for simple tricks in product management. I usually say Good PMng is not about tricks, but frameworks and mental models. But today I am sharing a trick.
I call it the “Double Jab”. 👊 👊
Most stakeholders live in the solution-space: “𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘟”. “𝘔𝘺 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴 𝘍𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘠”. “𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘰𝘣𝘷𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘡”. Even though every PM would love their stakeholders to live in the problem-space, generally you don’t have time to educate, you just need to be effective, cut through the solution cloud and prioritize correctly.
To do this, you ask the typical “Why?”. Now your stakeholder will have the answer ready and prepared.
𝐈𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐌𝐬 will take it and carry on, building whatever they are asked.
𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐌𝐬 double jab, punching a second “But why?”.
Stakeholders are usually not ready for the second “Why?”. They never thought about diving deep into the rationale of the first answer. They are caught off guard. It often leads them to retreating, and say “let me get back to you”. More times than not, they don’t come back. This means there was a lack of critical thinking, and maybe that need wasn’t as important. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬.
If they do answer the second Why, then you might have a winning argument. There was a thought process that overcomes an easy layer of reasoning, and it might deserve prioritisation discussion.
Bad ideas, unprepared requests, and proxy requirements rarely survive the double jab.