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Strategic Discipline Blog

What Are You Exactly Saying Yes To

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Jul 20, 2017

Last blog, FOCUS  - Beware the Busy Manager, we shared a 2002 Harvard Business Review article of the same name.  The research conducted indicates only 10% of managers have the right focus and energy to work on the stuff that truly matters.

In the 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss drives this point home, “Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

In this same blog we shared how frequently we commit to a quarterly ROCK, and fail to hit the mark.

We recommend saying “YES” slower.  The Quarterly Planning meeting can get your time fired up, excited to reach new goals and objectives. 

If you’re not reaching 75% (GREEN Success Criteria) of the ROCK’s on your Quarterly Plan each quarter, it’s probably because you and your team are saying “YES” to quickly.  If your quarterly planning meeting doesn’t allow for time to complete SMART goals on each of your objectives, it probably makes sense to allow your team to complete these by your next weekly meeting, share an Action Plan on how they plan to achieve the Objective they are responsible for to prevent over commitment.

 “Work smarter, not harder.” “Be more strategic.”

Michael Bungay Stanier, The Coaching Habit Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.jpgIn The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, author Michael Bungay Staniera calls these maxims TBU: True But Useless sound bites that sound good but are impossible to act upon.

He believes the word, “strategic” has become an overused qualifier, something we add to anything that we want to sound more important, more useful, more thoughtful, more… good.

It’s dangerous, because it can all leave employees supremely indifferent to the idea of strategy.

Of the many definitions of “strategy” that Michael Bungay Staniera likes Michael Porter’s best, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

The Strategic Question: If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?

This question is more complex than it sounds, which accounts for its potential.

At the end of every quarterly planning meeting I ask each leadership member for his commitment to the quarter plan we all worked on and agreed to.

We ask people to be clear and committed to their Yes.If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To.png

Staniera believes, too often, we kinda sorta half-heartedly agree to something, or more likely, there’s a complete misunderstanding in the room as to what’s been agreed to. (We’ve all probably   heard or uttered the phrase, “I never said I was going to do that!”? Me too!)

This is where the requirement of having SMART GOALS, backed by an Action Plan, either with time invested in the quarterly planning meeting, or in the week between your next weekly meeting is so vital.

KEY QUESTION: “Let’s be clear: What exactly are you saying Yes to?” brings the commitment out of the shadows.

This is a genius question to help your leadership team crystalize their commitment and intention.

If you then ask, “What could being fully committed to this idea look like?” it brings things into even sharper, bolder focus.

A Yes is nothing without the No that gives it boundaries and form.

You’re uncovering two types of No answers here (Staniera shares)—the No of omission and the No of commission.

For more insights on this watch Staniera’s video, How to say No (when you can't say No)

The first type of No applies to the options that are automatically eliminated by your saying Yes. (Example: If you say Yes to this meeting, you’re saying No to something else that’s happening at the same time as the meeting. Understanding this kind of No helps you understand the implications of the decision.)

The second type of No you’re uncovering—which will likely take the conversation another level deeper—is what you now need to say to make the Yes happen.

This second type of No puts the spotlight on how to create the space and focus, energy, and resources that you’ll need to truly do that Yes.

  • You probably need to uncover:
  • What projects do you need to abandon or postpone?
  • What meetings will you no longer attend?
  • What resources do you need to divert to the Yes?


  • What expectations do you need to manage?
  • From what Drama Triangle dynamics will you extract yourself?
  • What relationships will you let wither? Patterns
  • What habits do you need to break?
  • What old stories or dated ambitions do you need to update?
  • What beliefs about yourself do you need to let go of?

Whoa Doug, that’s a whole lot of questions to digest.  True.  Yet the reason we don’t achieve our quarterly ROCK’s, those important objectives, and often our One Thing, is due to a failure to commit.  Not due to wanting to reach the objective, by not being fully appreciative of what it takes to reach it. This means saying no to many activities we seldom realize conflict with achieving our commitments for the quarter.  

What’s your win percentage on achieving your Quarterly Objectives, your Annual Objectives, your Quarterly and Annual One Thing?  At Positioning Systems we guarantee results or you don’t pay for our services.  Looking for help? Contact

NEXT BLOG – Drama Triangle

What is this Drama Triangle? We’ve explored this in two Growth Summit blogs The Drama Triangle or Empowerment Dynamic - Orlando Growth Summit and Workplace Drama – END IT!  David Emerald Womeldorff – Dallas Growth Summit. Michael Bungay Staniera in The Coaching Habit shares several videos to help enlighten how this inhibits productivity and limits employee engagement. A Workplace Research Foundation Study discovered highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. Next blog we discover more about the Drama Triangle and how to reduce it in yourself and your team.

Topics: quarterly meetings, The Coaching Habit, Quarterly Plans, Short Term vs. Long Term Achieving

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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