Try it.  Take “no” off the table for your teams.  What will you get in return?


Saying “no” is easy.  It keeps inertia intact because right now, I am not doing what you are asking me to do.  So, continuing to not do that is easy.  So no.  The answer is no.  Can’t.  Won’t.  No way.  No no no.

Anyone who has ever worked for me knows that this answer gets a dirty look and perhaps an eye roll.  In extreme cases a snarl.  So, in time, people stop bringing me “no” as an answer.  And they begin to do remarkable things.

One of my teams at the State of Colorado is in charge of Enterprise Architecture.  It’s a small, very high performing team of amazing individuals whose scope is to set technology standards and build out enterprise architectures for the state.  But, even then, sometimes inertia can set in and “no” looks viable.  Recently, we were asked to redo our scorecards metrics for the Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer Kristin Russell.  She’s a big data geek and we all love that about her.  But, coming up with viable metrics for Enterprise Architecture was causing our team anxiety.  We could report out numbers around how many standards we came up with, but that doesn’t really tell much of a story.  We wanted to show a picture of our value.  The team went off to think about it. A couple of weeks later I was meeting with the EA business manager.

“We believe we have found the metrics that make sense,” he said.

“Great!”  I was thrilled because I had forgotten all about it and the scorecard was due.

“We want to build out fiscal metrics for our team.”

“What?”  I was slightly shocked.  “What if you can’t show that the team really is reducing cost?  Isn’t that a bit risky?”  (We reduce cost in government, we don’t make money.  But, you get the picture.)

He smiled.  “We’re confident we can show our value.  Remember, the answer is not ‘no’, it’s how.”

Take “no” off the table and watch your teams drive innovation and create amazing results.

But beware of removing “no” at home.  You might wind up watching some terrible movies.

a mostly well-informed, technically savvy, sometimes extroverted introvert

7 Comment on “The answer is not no, but how

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