1 min read

People Don’t Know What They Want, They Know What They Don’t Want

As a leader, you need to be able to get people on board with your ideas, validate approaches or collect feedback quickly enough to course-correct before wasting too much time.

A great way to achieve this is to put something in front of people as quickly as possible, even if it's still in draft form or your raw thoughts.

This isn't uncommon knowledge in some areas, and you've probably heard of it when it comes to product development, the MVP, or minimum viable product.

But this thinking applies to more areas.

I've seen many times where people spend a lot of time forming strategy documents, proposals, and execution plans without taking the essential time to validate the approach with other people and create alignment first.

The solution to all of this is quite simple.

Get in the habit of telling your team what you're thinking as often and early as possible.

Explain how you arrived at those thoughts and what factors influenced your decision-making.

Give them permission and welcome the opportunity for disagreement, which creates quick iteration to alignment.

You can achieve this by summarising a situation and asking the team if they agree with that summary.

You can encourage your team members to share designs, mockups, and demos of features with a broader stakeholder group in the early stages of development.

The psychology here is that people are easily motivated to provide feedback and improve something that exists. It's hard to inspire action sometimes and get past the inertia of the hypothetical or abstract, but as soon as you have something someone can disagree with, you'll be surprised how quickly the dialogue flows.

The simple explanation for the effectiveness of this approach is you are making your requests easier to consume and a "smaller ask" of other people's time.

You're turning what could be broad requests of many hypothetical possibilities into something more concrete that's easier for the other person to latch on to among their busy work day.

You'll also often convert those people into cheerleaders for your initiatives by making them co-creators.