Here it is! The product of your sleepless nights – a shiny new project proposal. You love it. You cherish it. You think it’s “the one and only” and that others will share your enthusiasm and love of it. And then the project’s sponsor says “No”. It comes as a thunder in a sunny Summer day. Or, you start getting hints that it will not be approved and that other options might need to be considered. Here are some of the options I noticed project managers taking:
Option A. The project manager will push for it and bring in all the heavy artillery he/she has in arsenal. Sometimes, the risks and benefits are weighted.
Option B. The project manager drops it. He/she goes home or to a bar and drowns the bitterness of disappointment in a glass or two of something bitter. Or he /she puts the pic of the sponsor on the wall and throws darts at it. Or chooses other harmless ways of dealing with the feelings.
Option C. The project manager repositions and starts seeing what the sponsor sees. He/she then realigns the proposal and reconsiders the timing. Usually, a resubmission follows.
Option D. The project manager goes to another sponsor. And it is usually cap in hand, if he/she firmly believes in the project idea. It is mynkind of option: If i am on a dead end road it does not mean someone else does not have a helicopter to pick up the load.
Each option warrants careful consideration in terms of costs of taking the No as an answer from financial to reputational aspects in each particular case.
Accepting a No can be hard. Moving beyond a No can be harder. Your choice and living with the consequences of it depends on your values and the importance you, as a project manager, attach to your ideas and the professional relation you have with the project beneficiary. At the end of the day, it is them who pay for the lost opportunity or benefit from you not taking No as an answer.
This is what my kid did when i said No to a Lego number one hundred something. I am inspired.
Do you take No as an answer?
Inspired by “What to Do When Your Boss Says No” by Scott Sonenshein, February 06, 2017, Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/02/what-to-do-when-your-boss-says-no?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social