Uncovering the Truth by Janice Fraser "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs September 09 2020 True #mtpcon, #Mtpcon2, Mind the Product London 2018, Mtpcon London, Product leadership, Product management, Product Management Skills, product product leadership skills, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 728 Janice Fraser at mtpcon London 2018 Product Management 2.912

Uncovering the Truth by Janice Fraser


Most big companies have one thing in common with America, that they’ve been dominant for a very long time but are now struggling. They’re seeing the same challenges about how to change so they can be resilient and grow in the world as it is now.

It’s a situation that forces us to reflect on what truth is. At #mtpcon London in 2019, Janice Fraser told us how she created three approaches to uncover, accept, and act on what’s true, so we can be more effective at work. This talk is as relevant today as it was then and so we wanted to share it again.

1. The Path out of Hell Leads Through Misery

Radical candour is about giving truth with love, for the benefit of others. Radical acceptance is the same idea, but for the benefit of ourselves. The truths we have to accept at work range from not getting a pay rise to having a lot of responsibility without any authority.

More often than not, we don’t give ourselves relief from the difficulties we face at work. You can see this for yourself by reimagining decisions that you’ve disagreed with and noticing the physical symptoms of stress that show themselves.

This is your brain getting stuck on the belief that the situation should not be the way it is. That creates a mental dissonance – you think “it’s true, but it shouldn’t be true, and I don’t like it”.
Janice Fraser on stage at mtpcon London 2018
Radical acceptance can help you to let go of these feelings. One tool is the Six Question Retro:

  1. What’s the unsettling situation?
  2. How did this situation occur?
  3. What effect did it have on you?
  4. How did you contribute to the situation?
  5. How did those around you contribute to the situation?
  6. What did you have control over in the situation?

More often than not, by answering these questions you’ll see that there was little you could have done in the situation. When you start to accept reality, it stops controlling your thoughts so you can feel better and move forward. Your options for this are solving the problem, feeling better about it or tolerating the issue.

Whatever you decide, you’ll be basing your approach on the facts and your conscious mind rather than the subconscious emotions which drive many of us.

By accepting the reality of your situation you can see that pain can’t be avoided, but you can still accept it calmly and move forward effectively.

2. Decisions are Made Illogically Most of the Time

Humans are biased and fallible. Everybody finds it hard to go back on decisions that they have previously justified and explained to others. When putting individuals together to make decisions, these cognitive biases are multiplied to create a situation where nothing objective can emerge.

To try and rework these situations to be more fact-led, you need to Notice, Describe and then Make a Plan. You can do this by practising better decision making with your teams:

  1. Set aside an hour
  2. Bring a colleague or two
  3. What is a decision that will be made?
  4. Who will be involved?
  5. What are three or four likely biases at play?
  6. How can you mitigate?
  7. Repeat monthly until you’re good at it.

Janice Fraser at mtpcon London 2018

3. You Don’t get Buy-in in a Single Meeting

No one knows what “buy-in” is, how to generate it, or how to keep it. Janice’s best model for describing it is below and you can use it to diagnose whether you have buy-in:

  • Understanding – any decision that’s made without understanding is highly vulnerable.
  • Belief – It’s possible to have belief but without buy-in. Often people will think they know what’s going on and buy into it, but when they really learn it’s easy for that to change.
  • Advocacy – if you hear other people selling your idea, then they understand it enough to talk about it with people and try to convince them of it. This is putting their social capital on the line in aid of the idea.
  • Decision-making – are people making decisions in support of it? This is the highest level of buy-in that means people won’t unwind what’s been done before.

Once you have this model, you can understand the support you truly have and where to focus your time on solidifying it.