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Exploring the "expiring veto"
Yesterday introduced the core concept of intent-based leadership: sharing your plan, rather than waiting for permission.
What about a specific case where a stakeholder is slammed and becoming a bottleneck without intending to. They've already set up this rhythm of intent-sharing, but they due to their own workload, aren't able to respond to their direct reports in a timely manner. This happens frequently in the now-default distributed team setting, which leans heavily on asynchronous communications and where people may struggle to keep up with all their emails, Slack messages, etc.
In theory, this shouldn't matter. The "I plan to X" rhythm is already running, which puts the person doing the work in the drivers seat for most decisions. (Excepting 2-way doors, super high-risk decisions, etc.)
But in reality, this is a common sticking point.
Here's one solve for it: the "expiring veto" message.
When you send that message where you'd previously ask for approval but now share your plan instead, explicitly state when you need an answer by, and how you'll move forward with your plan if you don't hear otherwise.
Here's a made up example in which a PM plans to push a whole new onboarding flow into delivery:
Based on the prototype tests, it looks like onboarding flow variant 3 is most usable and communicates the value most clearly to customers. That version had the highest rate of users having the "aha!" of anything we've tried so far.
My plan is to make variant 3 the top priority for the next sprint, which starts Wednesday afternoon. Please let me know if you have any input / changes by Tuesday at 5pm.
This does five things:
(1) Keeps them updated with what's going on and going to happen if they can't get to it
(2) Gives a clear deadline to respond by, which is easier to remember and act on
(3) Gives veto power if they disagree with your plan or see something different that they think you aren't accounting for
(4) Removes the manager as bottleneck -- things keep moving if you don't hear back from them
(5) Promotes a culture of leadership and thinking at all levels
Good managers will tend to appreciate the initiative you are showing. It makes their life simpler, they know what will happen if they don't have time to respond, and can redirect (or veto) if they really need to.