A common issue that product managers face is being overwhelmed with countless requests and a neverending backlog. To control your workload and sanity, we believe that it’s important at times to say no at times to your stakeholders, but what’s the best way to do this in a professional manner? This Sunday Rewind we look back to when Holly Donohue, Chief Product Officer at Purple provided a guide on how to say no more often.
Holly explains that when someone tells you their idea, treat it like you are receiving a precious gift. They have spent a long time crafting an ideal solution. In your contributor’s world, this idea solves one of their biggest pains. When saying no to an idea, it’s important to first spend time admiring the wrapping, reading the gift tag and carefully removing the paper. Try to look pleased with receiving the contents, even though the gift list was ignored.
To help us embrace this analogy of saying no, Holly presents a framework with keys to solidify in our daily practices:
Ask the requestor to explain the idea in their own words, even if you’re already familiar with it. Some useful phrases include “help me to understand…”, “could you walk me through…”, “remind me…”.
Find the value
Ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the value the change would deliver. Find out who will be affected by the change and the problem it solves.
Summarising is a powerful tool to demonstrate that you’ve understood what the other person has said. It’s particularly important if there has been a break since the last conversation with your stakeholder. Summarising means you highlight the key points of what has been said in your own words, without changing the meaning.
Explain and portray
Ask the ideal contributor to confirm whether your portrayal of the data tallies with their understanding. By doing this, you ask them to agree that you have accurately represented the benefits their idea could deliver. Check whether you have missed anything.
When you say no, avoid saying “I”. It’s important that this is not your opinion but based on research and data findings.