The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (unknown)
The team leader I disliked personally the most was a good project manager. One redeeming social skill was that he knew about Doctor No. When he was asked to add just a little more to a project he would agree and then ask what he got to drop to make up for adding that little bit. He did it religiously. He didn’t just say, “No,” he used the Doctor No approach. He asked the person adding work to tell him what else he could say “No” to. He turned the person giving him the work into Doctor No, a healer.
I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster. The most difficult problem for firefighters is to say, “NO!” It is hard to refuse to carry a mountain as it is thrust upon you one pebble at a time by smiling friends. Still, you MUST gently refuse the pebbles. The best way I have found to refuse pebbles of additional work is to require the person handing you the pebble to tell you which other pebble you can drop. They become Doctor No and fix your time and resource problems.
The velvet glove on the steel fist comes in handy here. As the person trying to hand you the pebble tells you how small it is, you have to clearly tell them it will not get done unless they tell you what else to drop. When they say, “You decide,” tell them, “I won’t do your task unless YOU tell me what to drop.” If you absolutely can’t get them to let you drop something, you then decide to drop something. Tell everyone by voice AND memo what will not get done due to the specific additional burdens placed on you. Then “don’t do” what you said you wouldn’t do.
Does this apply to job hunting? Absolutely. I will give you more information on job hunting than they can possibly apply in a day, week or month. Doctor No is about prioritizing. If you ask me what order to do things in, I’ll tell you. Otherwise I expect you to figure out what is most important and drop the rest.
Doctor No is about setting priorities. It is a nice way to get the people overloading you to help unload some of the burden. Turn those people into Doctor No. Let them be the healer.
Something To Do Today
Most people are afraid to try the Doctor No approach. Try it out the first time with a smaller project, something thrust on you that really is not that significant. Don’t say, I’ll try to get that done and then stay late to finish it. Ask the person to help you figure out what to drop instead. If they won’t tell you what to drop, tell them it won’t get done until they open up a hole in your schedule for you to do it. Then don’t do it. Your pebble pushers need to find out you are serious.