Saying No without Saying No |At the Whiteboard
February 23, 2009, 9:31am PST | Length: 00:02:00
By writing down your VSOs (Verbalized Summary Objectives), Ed Muzio, CEO of Group Harmonics, says you can deflect many requests before they even get to you. Your VSOs should include what you're doing, how much of your resources are being devoted to it, and what your intended results will be.
>> Edward Muzio: Background Music Hi. I'm Edward Muzio, CEO of Group Harmonics and I'm going to tell you how to say no without saying no. If you've ever worked in the world of sales, you may have heard of the elevator pitch. The idea is that if I'm saying something, in the time it takes me to ride an elevator with you I should be able to give you a quick and compelling statement of what I'm selling. That way when the doors open you can decide whether you want to talk to me some more. But most people don't know there's a different version of the elevator pitch that's used by people who are successful at managing complexity in high pressure work environments. That different version is called the verbalized summary objectives or VSOs. Now here's how VSOs work. A VSO is a statement of what you are trying to do and with whom you are doing it. And they follow basically this format right here. This is what I call the X, Y, Z statement and it's a verbal statement you say out loud. And it goes like this, I spend X amount of my resources working with Y on Z result." Now if you're an individual contributor that may sound like, I spend 25 percent of my time working with Tammy assumed spelling in Accounts Receivable to make sure that we get 100 percent receipt on time our accounts. If you're a manager, then you have more resources. It might say, Five of my people spend 20 percent of their time working with the defects group in the factory to ensure a 0.5 percent or lower defect rate in production. You can imagine they can vary widely depending on the group. But whatever they are you want to have five to seven of these VSOs and you want to write them to account for 80 percent, roughly, of the output you're responsible for. That means you have to make them more or less broad so that you have five to seven that cover 80 percent of your output. When you have five to seven what you'll find is as you read them it'll take you 60 to 90 seconds to say this out loud. Once you've got it written down, what do you do? You say it out loud. You say it out loud a lot. When you introduce yourself in a meeting, you lead with your VSOs. When you sit down at lunch with some friends and they ask what you're working on, you lead with you VSOs. When you meet with clients and you have to tell them what's new, you lead with your VSOs. You can change them whenever you want, but you're always talking about them, always publicizing them, always advertising. Why is this so important? Well, here's the thing. Here's you and here's me. If I'm going to come to you with a request, I'm going to say I want you to do this or that. If all I know about you is your job title and your name, then I'm going to be focused on getting you to do what I want. But if you come at me with an introduction that I've heard before or just now, that is your VSOs, it's what you're specifically working on, then I'm going to start to think a little differently. I'm going to start to think about how does your request, how does my request match what you're already doing? Should I even bother to ask you? Sometimes I won't. I'll ask somebody else. If I do think it fits, I'll frame the request in terms of what you're already working on. So it'll be less distracting, less disruptive. Background Noise So if you're finding yourself distracted and disrupted by random seemingly sideways requests in the workplace, focus on writing up your verbalized summary objectives. Write your five to seven VSOs and start to publicize them. When you do, you'll find those requests will diminish, you'll be more productive and you'll be less distracted.
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