Project Management

Yes, and the Art of No

Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

IT departments — and project teams in general — need to build a more collaborative, two-way relationship with the business side of their organizations, serving as an advisor and strategic partner. Sometimes that means knowing when to say “no” in order to prioritize needs, align work, and innovate solutions.

There is a hard and fast rule in improvisational theater that you must always say “yes” to your partner — essentially accepting the reality they are trying to communicate in order to build upon the performance. They call it the “yes, and…”

But unlike the stage, IT departments run a risk by only saying “yes.” For one seasoned consultant, always saying “yes” blocks the desire to innovate. Sometimes being a better partner means saying “no.”

To learn more about the fine art of saying no we turned to Mike Hughes, senior director in the Operations Excellence practice at West Monroe Partners, a fast-growing business and technology consulting firm in the U.S. and Canada. Hughes leads his company's organizational strategy and change management solutions, bringing 20-plus years of business transformation experience with a focus on strategy, leadership development, change management, organizational alignment, business planning and process improvement.

You describe the IT department as the &…

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