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Default to Yes

There are a lot of times when the decision matters less than who makes it. A common if simplified example is a code review; whoever ‘wins’ the review gets to feel some ownership, and all too often the win is style rather than substance. I see it in managers a lot, they want to do it their way even when it just doesn’t affect any important outcome.

Out of those and more I’ve evolved a philosophy based on that. If we each have an approach that will work, but you are the one doing the work, I’m going to let you do it your way. It’s part pragmatic because you know how to do it the way you propose, and it’s part cynical, if it fails it’s something you were totally vested in. In practice it shows people you trust them.

Here’s a more recent example. Joe Webb asked if they could create a custom logo for SQLSaturday #51. I’m a huge advocate of good branding, and for SQLSaturday the logo is definitely part of it, so my first impulse was to say no – just stick with consistency and use the normal logo.  But I thought about it a bit more because I truly hate to say no. Why not try it once? Let them try it and see what we think. So what we wound up with is the official logo on the site, and the unofficial but approved logo that they used on their shirts. We haven’t reached a final decision on the future yet, does it make sense to open this up for all events? Does it make sense to make the rule that they can’t? Don’t know yet, and will be a good conversation at the Summit this year.

Try watching the decisions at work that really are a toss up and managers handle them. Try it yourself when you get a chance. It’s not always easy to let go, but it’s rarely failed me, and even when it did, I felt good knowing I let them own the process.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 26 August 2010

Good advice. I'd like to see more people defaulting to "yes" and allowing people to own some of the process.

Posted by jcrawf02 on 26 August 2010

In most cases I agree with you, the specific case of the logo, I don't really. While it might be fun to tweak the logo for everyone's purpose, it's the standard logo that is the brand, and should be used the same everywhere. (See justcreativedesign.com/.../what-makes-a-good-logo for some more thoughts on this topic, not from me)

But in most cases, yes, ownership of/input into the process

is what employees really crave.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 26 August 2010

good advice.  Sometimes it is very good to morale to allow people a win now and then.  If they feel some ownership - they may work harder at achieving high success.

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