Learning When to Say "NO." Collaboration Red Flags

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Colin Furze from the United Kingdom on his 14.03m (46 ft 3 inches) long motorcycle.


Why would anyone make a motorcyle like this? To get in the Guinness Book of World Records of course.

In everyday meetings, sales pitches etc. you are never trying to win the world's longest pitch or meeting award. The reason most meetings and projects go long is because people are afraid and always say 'yes'. Yes to things that aren't part of your offering. Yes to short term cash and medium/long term loss of focus, vision and business.


Collaboration is undoubtedly a 2-way street, you can just veer into the other lane and say 'NO'. So how do you move forward while holding to your ideals, objectives and collaborive ways?

According to Seth Godin:

It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.

+ Many collaboration experts give detailed analysis and opinions and even formulas on when to say no to collaboration. No to collaboration? Never! Always yes to collaboration. No to the projects or meetings or events or relationships or deals is the correct answer. 

+ First, be willing to admit failure respectfully and appropriately. For example, when searching the web, one always comes across pages that don't exist any more. Some sites just say 'sorry, page doesn't exist'. Some go to the extreme. Here is a beautiful list of error pages. What can we learn from this? Do you have a good apology? Are you willing to fail in the first place? What's the worst that can happen? Are you comfortable with saying no and losing money? Perhaps the best error page of all time is an entire video:

+ An example of when scientists should have said no. Relationships are the best examples of collaboration, but certainly the line has been crossed: