Photo by: Gräfin. | Source: photocase.com

If you need someone’s help with a strategic decision or action, there’s often a tendency to do as much work as you can yourself before going to someone else to minimize the impact on them. Then after you’ve taken it as far as possible, you approach them for participation or a strategic decision. This is often done quite earnestly to demonstrate your personal contribution and effort.

The Problem

The problem is that the other party may see the situation from a very different strategic perspective; they could have different and potentially more creative ideas than you do. But if you’ve advanced the process so far that it’s beyond the opportunity for the other person to meaningfully contribute (or worse, you’ve made strategic decisions that eliminate options the other person may have been able to pursue), your attempt to save them hassle can wind up sabotaging your own efforts.

An Example

Someone became very frustrated with me when I couldn’t help in a way that fully satisfied them.

A big reason?

She’d wrongly interpreted someone else’s comment, implemented a number of very final strategic decisions based on the misinterpretation, and then expected me to make exactly the decision she wanted. If we’d have talked three decisions earlier, it might have been a possibility, but the strategic decisions that had been made precluded me from being able to pursue several potentially favorable alternatives. I tried to devise a compromise that could work, but the situation led to completely unnecessary acrimony between us.

An Alternative Approach

So how do you ask for help?

  • Figure out early on in what areas you need help and who can provide it
  • Do some homework
  • Before you start shutting down options, first consult the people you’re looking to for help.

In that way, you’ll maximize the opportunities for them to contribute and minimize potential frustrations for everyone involved. – Mike Brown


If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com  or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3 Responses to “Asking for Strategic Decision Help When You Need It”

  1. Anne Miner says:

    Thank you Mike for a fresh perspective on when to ask for help! I know I have been guilty of working out all the details before discussing the issue/concern with others in my organization … and I too have suffered the backlash of , “If you have already decided what to do, why are you wasting time asking me?” As we entrepreneurs mature and come to realize that we don’t know everything and we don’t have to know everything, we can feel more comfortable with asking for help and accepting help!

    • Mike Brown says:

      I think this challenge can happen both in entrepreneurial businesses and large organizations as well, Anne. It’s as much about attitude as anything else. An interesting side note, when we first moved into our house, I was talking with my neighbor about my parents coming to Kansas City to paint our house while we were working. My neighbor responded by saying, “My motto is always if somebody wants to help you, let them.” I blurted out, “You’re an only child aren’t you?” And sure enough she is. As another one, I could spot the only child attitude!


  1. Asking for Strategic Decision Help When You Need It | The Jazz of Innovation | Scoop.it - October 12, 2011

    […] Asking for Strategic Decision Help When You Need It strategic decision or action, there’s often a tendency to do as much work as you can yourself before going to someone else to minimize the impact on them. Source: brainzooming.com […]