Saying "no" is hard but powerful

One of the hardest things to do as a professional (or otherwise) is saying "no". We tend to overcommit because of the fear of disappointing others; for social cohesion; and a variety of other reasons. We do this as it is easy to take on extra work; but hard to ruthlessly prioritize and respectfully say "no". Overcommitment almost always means we fall short on delivering results. The right thing to do is to (respectfully) say "no" (where it makes sense) -- and explain "why". Check out the video below (gave a talk at #SREcon Ireland in Aug 2017) on how I said "no" that helped reduce false production alarms (caused by over-monitoring) by more than 90% (the same can be applied to flaky tests). I said "no" to my teams who wanted to take on more (urged them to focus on one thing; execute on that one thing; prove that we could deliver; then promised that we can take on more). I said "no" to the teams that relied on us for SRE, Tooling and expert DevOps services and support (by establishing mutually agreed upon alert budgets). If you can stand firm, learn to say "no", the outcomes can be pretty awesome! Also, it's not enough if you --as the leader-- say "no"; you must empower all of your teams to say "no".


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