Why You Need to Have the Word “No” In Your Management Language

Coming up with ideas or big priorities during the planning process is easy. The hard part is narrowing down your planning team’s ideas to the ones that are most impactful and strategic to your organization.

In fact, one of the biggest challenges leaders face in the planning process is deciding what they need to omit in their strategic plan. Planning teams often bring to the table great, creative ideas that all have the potential to propel the organization to its desired future state. While it might be painful to omit excellent ideas with high potential, here are the key reasons you need to exercise the word “no” during the planning process:

1) If you don’t say no, you’ll stretch your team and organization too thin: Saying yes to too many priorities or ideas can dilute your plan and detract focus from the critical actions or initiatives you need to accomplish. You don’t want your organization to leave a trail of half-baked priorities because there is simply too much to accomplish within your plan.

2) So you can go all-in on the things you do say yes to: During the planning process, identify your few “big pillars” of focus and go all-in on them. We generally recommended there are 4-5 big areas of focus in a plan. It’s important to acknowledge that continued focus on these key areas will require resources, be it people or other financial resources.

3) Then use your strategic plan as the roadmap: Once you’ve decided what the plan’s key focus areas are, put it in writing. Putting your priorities in writing will help cement them and prevent your organization from changing them with the next wave of new ideas. We’re not saying you should never change your key areas of focus, but they shouldn’t be completely evolving at each strategy review. Long-term achievement requires long-term focus.

Exercising the word “no” is a challenge for any leader – but, being strategic thinkers requires your planning team to understand when it’s appropriate to omit something from your plan. While the old saying “there are no bad ideas” may be true, not all ideas are the most strategic or impactful.



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