Chapter 89. Using Six-Page Documents to Close Decisions

Ian Nowland

This chapter describes how you can use a six-page document combined with a one-hour review meeting as a mechanism to close “disagree and commit” style decisions, as I learned managing at Amazon. I have had success with using this for annual team roadmaps and trade-offs of product strategy, delivery plans, and engineering implementations.

Why Documents?

For closing a decision, a document is preferred to PowerPoint; here’s why:

Clarity
Written documentation forces the writer to clarify their thoughts before discussion and state them in a way that avoids misinterpretation.
Introvert inclusion
Documents are more inclusive of introverts who find it difficult to speak during meetings, often because they are thinking deeply about new issues raised.
The reader owns rate of information consumption
Written documents can be read at any pace and in any order. They can be pondered.
The full argument is seen before conversation
Questions asked are informed by the complete picture rather than where the presenter is in the slides.
Conversation rather than dictation
It is easy for PowerPoint to become the presenter giving a speech rather than a conversation among all stakeholders.

That being said, documents come with a cost to produce and review. If all stakeholders are happy, a decision can be resolved at a whiteboard, which ...

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