A Passionate No

Ironic that immediately after David Brooks’ column criticizing the Tea Party movement for being too radical, Brooks publishes a column criticizing politicians’ lack of passion and commitment for fiscal responsibility:No

“To actually reduce benefits and raise taxes, we’re going to need legislators who wake up in the morning passionate about fiscal sanity. The ones we have now are just making things worse.”

The management lesson to me is that — contrary to popular perception — there’s often far more pressure to say yes than to say no. This is true whether the sexy new thing is Universal Health Care or a War in Iraq or some cool new widget.

Sometimes the correct answer is Yes. Usually the correct answer is No. And the only way to be able to say Yes — and to deliver — where appropriate is to say No all the other times.

I have very mixed feelings about the Tea Party movement, but the part I love is their passion for fiscal responsibility. Any moron can increase spending and lower taxes. And any product manager can get excited about all the new great ideas that come along. But you won’t be able to deliver on any of those new ideas unless you’re very passionate about saying No to all the others. The average company is like the US government. Its biggest challenge isn’t finding great ideas. It’s finding the discipline to store up enough resources to focus on the one or two great ideas that they have.

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/biscuitsmlp/ / CC BY-SA 2.0