How to Get Things Done, When the Answer is No

December 17, 2018

 

It's s a classic situation for a growth marketer; you're all wound up about this great idea just to be punched in the face with a heavy list of reasons to why you can't do it.

 

Sounds familiar? It is easy to be discouraged in that situation, however, I decided to take it as a personal challenge not to let myself get demotivated that easily. So what I've learned is that on many occasions you can actually make your ideas to happen. The key is to be curious, creative and willing to get your hands dirty. By taking this approach, I have managed to make many ideas to happen that at first glance neither had the technical support, financial infrastructure, legal requirements or the right internal alignment in place.

 

Looking back at it, it has boiled down to a few key principles that has really helped me to get my ideas realized.

 

And don't forget patience. The bigger the organisation, the more of it you're probably going to need.

 

Here are 7 Steps to Help You Realise Your Ideas

 

1. Ask Curiously Why

Whether it is tech, legal, finance or any other department you are discussing with - try to really understand the core reason to why your idea has been declined. Most people don't like to say no for the sake of it, so ask in a curious way what it is in your idea that is non-doable. If it is a legal reason, then don't settle with the answer “it is not compliant with law X”. Understand the true purpose of the law, and what it is in your idea that is non-compliant with it. If it is a technical reason, don't settle with “we don't have support for that”. Dig deeper until you understand what it is not technically possible and what isn't. It is not until you understand the core reason that you can come up with a smart and realistic solution.

 

2. Understand the other Person's Job

Show interest in the other person's job and try to understand what takes time, and what is easy to do. This is very typical in software development. One aha-moment for me was when a developer asked me “does it have to be synced instantly or is once per day enough?” and the amount of development work decreased with 10x when I happily settled with “daily sync”. A small change that had almost an insignificant impact on what I was trying to achieve, had a massive impact on the workload on the tech team. By being curious and keeping a dialogue on what takes time to do, and what doesn't, you can talk the same language and reach consensus on a viable solution.

 

3. Time to Get Creative!

When you have understood the core problem of your idea, and what is important in the job that your fellow colleagues are actually hired to do, you can start to think about creative solutions. Is it technical limitations - can you solve it manually? Is it financial issues, can amend your idea to fit their accounting needs? Is it legal compliance, can you add some clarifying copy to make it compliant or change your idea to make it compliant? Many times, there are ways to solve the issues if you just think once again.

 

4. Suggest Comprehensive Solutions

Once you have come up with a solution, remember that everyone is busy, so if they don't understand you will most likely still get a no - or not a reply at all. So if you do want a positive reply, make sure to put it in a format that is understandable.

 

5. Take on the Manual Work

Be ready to get your hands dirty! Be the first one to offer to take on the manual work nobody else wants to do. This can actually take you quite far, simply by offering to take on all types of manual, time-consuming and “less fun” work that is often the reason why ideas are rejected.

 

By taking this approach, I have ended up doing all sorts of manual work to get things done. To get around technical limitations, I have ended up running queries of code in our database and manually adding campaign vouchers to customers accounts myself - on a daily basis. To get around financial issues, I have ended up doing manual checks myself to limit as much as possible the extra work I am putting on their tables.

 

And to be fair, manual work can actually be a nice break from all the thinking you do the rest of the day.

 

6. Help others Help You

Instead of asking people to do things for you, you can ask them what they would need from you in order to do their jobs better. This can be particularly efficient with support and sales if you are working with a product that you'd like them to sell more of. Again, understand the challenges they are facing in their work and proactively suggest things you could do for them to help them help you. This way, the product I worked with moved from being a low internal priority to being a product that others soon enough started reaching out to me about.

 

Also - don't forget to be available. If you are asked to help out with something, it is your chance to help them help you. It will pay off over time.

 

7. Appreciation

Nobody likes to help an ungrateful stoneface, right? Don't forget to thank people for helping you out and for taking the time in their already jammed schedule. So if you´re going to add more work to their agenda, at least do it with a thankful note.

 

 

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