There are some people who have wired themselves to say “no.” There is no risk that is worth taking. There is no new initiative that is worth pursuing. There are no changes worth making. If they get to weigh in on a decision, their answer is universally “no.” These “No men” and “No women” are worse than the Devil’s Advocate. They don’t point out an idea’s weakness; they actively work to make sure it is never brought to life.
In a world of accelerating disruptive change, ideas are the currency of growth—and, if we are being honest, survival. Even though there are plenty of bad ideas, there is a good reason to say “yes” to new ideas, to try things, and to iterate.
Find the Good
Instead of reflexively saying “no” to a new idea, look for what’s right about the idea. What makes the idea interesting? How does it change things that might allow you to do better work in the future? What would your clients value in this idea—even an idea that would, at first anyway, make them uncomfortable?
By looking to see what’s good, you give yourself and your team permission to explore is further.
Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Bad ideas can be had for even less. Without the ability to execute, no idea is a good idea. But the most unlikely, unreasonable, and difficult ideas sometimes turn out to be solid gold. More still, the idea that you resist and refuse might be the very idea your competitor figures out how to use to leapfrog you.
Instead of “no,” ask “how?” Instead of finding reasons you can’t do something, explore how you could do what is being proposed. Even if it means you have to collaborate and make changes. Even if it means you have to do it in stages or phases. Even if it means you have to play politics.
Your job is to find ideas that will improve your results and bring them to life. Saying “no” means you cut yourself off from the very things that will propel you into the future. Instead of trying to say “no,” find a way to say “yes.”
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