When it is important to say “no” to something new
So, you decide that it’s a good idea to start a new project or apply for grant funding. That’s great – the hardest part is the first step, right? After you decide to make that decision you may come up with a project charter or plan, identify resources (both personnel and non-personnel related), set up a meeting schedule, brainstorm ideas, and start thinking about implementation. However, is there ever a point when you say now is not the right time, or even, this great idea may not come to fruition? Let’s think through those scenarios and determine when it is appropriate to say no to a new idea.
- Lack of alignment with strategic plan or priorities – You already have a strategic plan in place or have identified the priorities for your organization. While this idea or potential grant funder may be a great fit, it just does not fit with your current path. If you veer off too much, you may end up losing sight of your mission and potential growth for your organization.
- Lack of dedicated resources – You have the concept, but where is your team? Even if you have a dedicated staff, they may be focused on other tasks. Collaborations are an option, but this requires careful planning and memorandums of understanding about roles and responsibilities, as well as oversight. Before you draft that charter, make sure that you have the resources to implement.
- Too costly or inefficient – Have you thought through whether this is the best approach or funding vehicle? Are there strings attached to a grant proposal that will lead to difficulties post-award? Make sure you are going down the right path or else all of your hard work and efforts will be meaningless.
- Lack of buy-in from leadership or your board – When a new concept or potential funder is identified, who raised the idea? Have you received approval to move forward from your Executive Director or organizational leadership and your board? This leads back to discussion point #1 and that lack of approval from key personnel may indicate that you are not in alignment with your strategic plan or priorities.
While I am all for innovative service offerings or new concepts, I have seen all too many fail. Make sure yours does not end up being a source of consternation.