Do, or Do Not

January 31, 2020

Next time you have the urge to say “I’ll try to do that” to a work assignment, ask yourself if what you really mean to say is “No”.

“Yes, I’ll do it” is actionable; so is “No, I won’t”. But when it comes to planning, “I’ll try” is worth close to nothing, because it holds no one accountable for completing the task.

There are certainly times when exploration of the unknown is warranted. At those times, it would be entirely appropriate to schedule time for experimentation. But more often than not, engineers use “I’ll try” to overextend themselves while still having an out.

Say “Yes”. Or “No”. Or “I’ll need help doing that”. Just don’t say “I’ll try” and leave everyone hanging.