Multiple times I've found myself in a situation in a meeting where I'm laying out my plans for a project I've been assigned and either my manager or a co-worker identify something to be impossible and therefore I should do something else (taking the time to explain how to do it). Instead of trying to convince them that my plan is possible in the meeting (which I've learned the hard way is a very bad thing to do), I instead after the meeting go and create a proof of concept to show that it is possible and present it the next time we have a meeting about my project with pros and cons compared to the solution they presented.

Is this bad etiquette on my part and should I just go with the group and implement the suggested solution just to keep a good rapport with my coworkers (not making them look bad).  

Normally if the meeting is about my co-worker's project, I won't do anything after the meeting if they choose a different path than what I would have done and if my boss or co-worker states that they don't want something implemented a particular way and they don't specify that its because they think it's impossible I respect their viewpoint and adjust my project accordingly.

If this is bad etiquette, what should I do when someone is trying to guide my project using known incorrect reasoning?

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    are you aware that "impossible" in a business context may mean "will cost too much" or "can't scale later the way we will need" or any number of things other than "against the laws of physics and cannot be done" – Kate Gregory May 8 at 17:43
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    Yes I do, normally these ideas are presented as why an option is invalid. In the case you presented, if they say it is impossible because "...it'll cost too much" the POC would be the cost analysis of the solution showing its true cost being much less than expected. If they said impossible because "... can't scale." the POC would be a stress test between my solution and their proposed solution. The question revolves around knowing that their argument as to why something is impossible is invalid. This is not always the case and this question is about those particular circumstances. – Tolure May 8 at 17:50
  • I'd say if you can spare the effort and have genuine interest, do the prep work you are talking about. A lot of the time, these can be the most creative moments -- even if they are half-finished and don't make the cut to fit into the project/situation that inspired them. Such innovations may very well reappear later in another situation. However! Depending on the people / personal relationships, consider that not presenting your work may be the best move. Especially be aware of people with a "get it done" mentality (may be fully justified in the specific instance). "Build some to throw away". – Pete W May 8 at 18:46
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    I just say "Impossible for you, merely difficult for me." Then I go ahead and do it. – A. I. Breveleri May 9 at 3:12

If this is bad etiquette, what should I do when someone is trying to guide my project using known incorrect reasoning?

Make your case. If they reject your suggestions, ideas, and opinions then do what your boss tells you to do. It isn't your company. It isn't your decision. At the end of the day, they pay you to perform work. You may sometimes disagree with that work. That's OK.

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    Makes sense for statements coming out of my manager, but what would you do if these were coming from your co-worker (equal footing)? – Tolure May 8 at 17:52
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    @Tolure You talk to your manager/team lead/other superior and get them to help make the decision. – Philip Kendall May 8 at 18:00
  • @Tulure, "shifting sands" questions are difficult to deal with. You're now saying this is a co-worker prattling on. Regarding your original question, the answer is no more complicated than "You're being paid, do what you are told to do". Regarding "co-workers prattling", ignore them, and do what you are told to do by your manager. – Fattie May 9 at 14:06
  • @Fattie How is it "shifting sands" if the original question was about two scenarios, the answer only addresses one scenario and one tries to get input for the other scenario? – Jan Niklas Fingerle May 11 at 14:34
  • I do not think advising the path of least resistance is what the OP needs. The OP seems to be a self-motivated worker who tries to make an impact. The advice in your posts is more suitable for people who just want to do their work and forget about it. – Theo Tiger May 12 at 12:38

I instead after the meeting go and create a proof of concept to show that it is possible and present it the next time

Do this before the first meeting. Meeting dynamics are things to learn from. If you want something to happen a certain way you prepare for the meeting and have your strategies in place before it starts to accomplish what you want. Make this a normal part of your meeting preparations.

Anticipate objections and overwhelm them, you have the huge advantage of being prepared and ready while others are raising issues on the fly.


In the future, present your ideas privately one-on-one to the usual meeting participants before you bring them up to the entire group in the larger meeting.

Group dynamics are weird, and it's much easier to correct your idea or convince someone of your idea when you're dealing with them one-on-one.

Do the same with your manager as well. If your manager has any hesitation, then you can ask them for permission to build a quick proof-of-concept.

With that said, the situation is a little bit different now since the group has already shot down your idea. If you'd be willing to work on this idea during your own personal time, and assuming you have a good relationship with your manager, I don't see anything wrong with trying to build a proof-of-concept that specifically addresses the features that are supposedly "impossible".

But if you do this, and if you've used your own time, and assuming it actually works, present your proof-of-concept privately to your manager and see what he says. Do not surprise him with this during a meeting with others.

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