Asking permission

“Ti’s better to beg for forgiveness, then to ask for permission”

I’ve heard this stated on many occasions, and have used the phrace myself at times.  But are we really trying to get over or around some perceived roadblock or are we looking for a different sort of engagement at a different place and time?

In most cases when this cliche’ is used, someone or some small group has a great idea, but feel they may need to gain some sort of approval.  In today’s business world this is generally not the case, and most businesses would be happy for the team to forge ahead and implement the idea within reasonable constraints.

The “beg for forgiveness” part usually comes up in relation to some stated procedure or compliance situation.  If the person or team with the idea is smart, they probably know instinctively where those regulatory/legal/ethical boundaries are.  What I believe is actually being stated is that the team may not want to have to explain themselves later.  I think that is mistake.

When you find yourself in this position, instead of trying to apologize for what you did, or even try to hide it, you really need to be prepared for the conversation with those you perceive might have said “no”.  Don’t think of it as an opportunity to grovel.  Instead, use the opportunity to engage with the individual and talk about the good work you did, the value you provided and the passion you had for the idea.

Being honest and transparent about your motives means never having to say you are sorry.