Peter Sperry

1 – “It’s not your job to worry about that.”

Response — “Whose job is it? I would be happy to share the idea with the right person.”

2 – “Do you have data to back that up? Your intuition doesn’t mean anything.”

Response — ‘Good point. I have gathered some preliminary data. What other research should I complete before moving forward?”

3 – “That’s not how the government does things.”

Response — “I’ve researched the statutes, regulations and organizational policies. There is noting that says we can’t do this.” Or “I’ve researched the statutes, regulations and organizational policies. All we need is a waiver or approval from _______. I have prepared a memo explaining why they should agree.” (Funniest meeting I was ever in was when a Major General in the Corps of Engineers blew up in frustration and exclaimed it would “take an act of Congress” for him to be able to move forward on a project. The Congressman replied that he had assumed that was the case and had called the meeting to get input on drafting the act. The bill was enacted into law 10 months later.)

4 – “You don’t know everything that’s going on, or you wouldn’t suggest that.”

Response — “You may be right about that. Can you fill in the blanks for me or suggest some sources of background information?”

5 – “Let’s put that in the parking lot (the garage, the back burner, etc.) and get back on topic.”

Response — (at the end of the meeting) — “We put several ideas in the parking lot. Lets either deal with them now or schedule a followup meeting to properly consider them.”

6 – “Technology can’t solve everything, you know?”

Response — “You are absolutely correct, so doesn’t it make sense to fully leverage technology when it CAN solve a problem?”

7 – “How can you even suggest such a thing?”

Response — “That is a non-responsive critique. Why wouldn’t I suggest it?”

8 – “They will never agree to that” or “IT will never allow that.”

Response — “We will never know what “they” will agree to until we ask.” and “I hadn’t intended to tell IT until it is too late for them to get in the way.” (I normally do not endorse breaking protocol since there are actually more ways to work WITHIN the system than people realize; but I will make an exception if the idea has to go through the IT demons.)

9 – “Don’t you think you’re being a little negative?”

Response — “offering a solution to an obvious problem is positive, not negative”

10 – “Just because you saw a good presentation at a conference doesn’t mean it can work here.”

Response — “Possibly not, but we’ll never know unless we try.”