One of the hardest things to do is to say NO — especially when it means killing a product or feature, turning a customer away or deciding not to pursue a market opportunity. It’s double hard if you have people working on the opportunity and need to tell them that their work on this particular project will not continue.
And yet it’s one of the most important words you can say for your company. You are in an eternal battle for resources; there are only so many hours in the day and only so many battles you can fight. You need to make the main thing the main thing — and be utterly clear about your NOs. And then you need to step up and say it. There is nothing worse than leaving a project and people in a limbo; not giving them clear guidance; no clear yes or no.
At the end of a discussion your answer should always be yes or no. Clear. Concise. Sometimes this will mean: Yes to gathering more data, running a few more tests to make a more informed decision. And make clear what the parameters are and how you will make the decision.
P.S. Please excuse the irregular schedule — I’m at Unreasonable at Sea at the moment. :)