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Give Them a Chance to Say “No” (or “Yes”)

Making plans
“Our leaders won’t like it”

“We’ve already tried to tell them that.”

“There’s no way the execs will greenlight it.”

When I am asked to advise a company, the leaders have been working on that specific problem for a while. A long while. Typically, my team and I were brought in after they have hired a McKinsey or a Bain and done a multi-million dollar project. Before that, they would have tried (and failed) with different internal projects. By the time I am talking to them, they think they’ve exhausted all their options. They are frustrated, simmering anger at the situation.

And, so you’d think they’d be enthusiastic or relieved when we arrive at a potential solution.

But nearly always, they will say something to the effect of “no way will that fly”. And then defensively add, “we’ve already tried that.”

Ok, I’ll ask, show me. Show me what you’ve already proposed and we can do a gap analysis between that proposal and this direction. And that’s when they stop. They splutter. They defend.

There was no proposal, you see. No specific thing documented. Just the “knowledge” that this proposed solution or answer would never fly. The reasons varied.

Nilofer Merchant, speaker

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Called a visionary by CNBC, Nilofer Merchant’s ideas are shaping the future of organisations of all shapes and sizes. Thinkers 50 named her its “Future Thinker” 2013 & welcomed her into the rankings of top business gurus 2015.


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