Shuttle Diplomacy Decision Making for Product Managers

Recently, I started mentoring aspiring Product Managers. During one of the mentoring sessions, I was asked about the process I follow whenever I get a group of people into a meeting room to make a decision.

My answer was that I never put a group of people in a meeting room to make a decision. I’m an introvert who likes to avoid conflict. Having a group of people in a meeting room debating decisions is a good way to create conflicts, and to complicate matters.

Shuttle Diplomacy is my favorite approach to facilitating decisions that involve many stakeholders. The process is simple.

  1. Write a Decision-Making document (A Google doc)
    1. Outline the problem, few possible solutions with the pros and cons of each.
    2. Highlight one of the solutions as your recommended solution.
    3. Keep it short. 3 Pages maximum.
  2. Share the document with your most powerful decision-makers, and ask them to leave their comments.
  3. If you get disagreements or push back from some of the stakeholders, ask for a quick one to one catchup with the person pushing back to understand their concerns and discuss whether if some risk should be accepted, or that the solution should get updated based on the new information you learned from this stakeholder.
    1. You should leave that one to one meeting with an agreement.
  4. Once you get the agreement from your most powerful stakeholders without making them meet each other, you can update the document to only include the winning solution.
  5. Share the document again with the rest of the stakeholders to get feedback and uncover other concerns
    1. Highlight that this has been reviewed by the most powerful stakeholders.
    2. Set a deadline for confirming the decision
  6. If needed, do an Amazon-style reading session for the document. You should get no push back during the reading session if all concerns have been addressed in advance.

This approach saves me a lot of headaches and saves the organization a lot of unproductive man hours.