Blog » On Saying No

On Saying No

We are pleased to have another guest blog, this time by Amy Rasdal, founder of Rasdal Associates, Inc. and Billable at the BeachTM.

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to say “no”? Some people find it nearly impossible and end up with too many commitments. We’ve all done it at one time or another. Do you ever say “yes” and then regret it?

Most organizations struggle more with saying “no” than saying “yes”. Oddly enough it’s far more risky to say “no” than to say “yes”. What if you were the one who said “no” to the billion dollar idea? Isn’t it less risky to say “yes” to everything? Of course I’m exaggerating the point…

It is important to say “no” earlier rather than later because we’ve learned that to wait until something reaches a higher value stage and then abort due to lack of capacity means losing more money and time. You can obviously say “no” either explicitly or implicitly, because by not delivering you end up saying what amounts to “no”. Remember too that time is your one finite resource, and when you say “yes” to one thing you are inevitably saying “no” to another.

If we try to focus on everything we focus on nothing.

The Importance of Discrete Priorities

As a professional project manager, priorities are always an issue. Priorities should drive the tasks, due dates and critical path for every project. How often do you feel like you have too many top priority items? I work with (or force) my clients to develop a list of discrete priorities. There can only be one #1 priority. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do more than one thing but only one thing can be #1.

Once you establish discrete priorities you will be amazed at how quickly things start getting done. The entire organization falls into alignment with much less effort. You will realize that each member of the company makes several little decisions each day and these discrete priorities will appropriately direct each step.

If you don’t make decisions, decisions will make you.

A Challenge from Me to You

I’d like to challenge each of you to make discrete priorities. Force yourself to have only one #1. I’d also like to challenge you to say “no” on a regular basis. I promise things will fall into place more easily if you adopt these two simple philosophies.

About the author: Amy Rasdal has over 20 years of experience in Operations, Product Development, Corporate Development and Marketing. Amy Rasdal started her own company, Rasdal Associates, Inc. (, eight years ago. Rasdal Associates specializes in the other side of entrepreneurship – implementation and execution. Focus areas include program and project management for the Internet software and medical device industries. Ms. Rasdal also recently founded Billable at the BeachTM ( to give people a jump start in independent consulting.

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