Say Yes to Not Saying No!

Just read a great blog post on what makes an innovation leader – and I couldn’t agree more! When you don’t say no right off the bat, anything becomes possible. Wholly unknown options and scenarios open up for evaluation and exploration.

Along these lines… since moving to Germany several years ago, I’ve thought a lot about the differences between the German and American culture. Although this might be boiling it down to a stereotype, I’ve noticed that while Americans tend to say yes (i.e. entertain an idea) first, Germans take the more conservative route of a skeptical no before coming around (if the idea warrants it). Could this be why the U.S. consistently ranks as one of the most innovative countries?

I for one have taken this observation to promote “yes-behavior” in my thoughts and actions. Some of the best things that have “happened” to me, happened because I started off by thinking and saying yes.

However, there are some forms of yes that may need to be excluded, such as:

  • In some cultures no is seen as impolite, leading to a yes even when no is meant [confusion ensues]
  • Many people say yes because they are unable to say no.
  • Yes, but …. / Yes, maybe ….

So, say yes first. And mean it! This makes the thinking that follows more open. Feel free to think about why an idea will work. Play with it. You can always arrive at no later. Benefit from a big portion of pure and open YES in your life”!

I’m looking forward to your comments ….  
[@Ryan Jacoby – don’t you mean “When in Doubt, Do!?] 

Leading Innovation: Ignore your instincts, say “yes”
by Ryan Jacoby via do_matic


 (From Dean Terry’s Flckr photostream shared herewith under the auspices of Creative Commons which says “yes.”)

When in doubt, don’t.
Almost every organization in the world struggles to design and bring new, valuable and cool stuff into the world. With their success, organizations evolve towards consistency and away from variance. As individuals, leaders follow suit. We develop all kinds of strengths and behaviors that help us to perform well at “consistency tasks”.
To avoid being too smart, leaders looking to encourage innovation have to learn to catch themselves and overcome the urge to say “no.”
Great innovation leaders learn to start with “yes.” They see the possibility of new options, give the gift of emotional support for those bringing them new ideas and provide the instrumental support to help these new options progress. The strong ones survive anyway. 
See Chapter 16 of Oribiting the Giant Hairball (“The Office of the Paradox”) for more on this.

2 thoughts on “Say Yes to Not Saying No!

  1. Not that long ago I had a similar discussion with Klaus (my boss). He said the following about business opportunities: You cant force something to happen, you can only maximize your chances (by saying yes instead of no) and then find out which one will work.

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