How one word can change a conversation

How one word can change a conversation

I ran a workshop recently with a group of leaders around innovation.

One of my key points was that there are two types of innovation in an organisation.

The formal e.g. new product development stage gate process


The informal.

These are the spontaneous interactions around the coffee pot for example.

The problem is that most leaders overemphasise the former and underemphasise the latter.

The reason is this.

You can never predict when an idea will emerge.

Or who will come up with the breakthrough insight.

It could be a chance encounter.

Rarely does it occur in a formal meeting for example.

Hence leaders have to be more prepared for the spontaneous comment, suggestion or idea.

They have to shift from ‘yes but’ to ‘yes and’.

‘Yes but’ closes down.

Leaders say they are offering a constructive criticism but most people (i.e. the generators of the idea) just hear but, but, but……….

But ideas are never born perfect.

They need help, more input and often a fresh perspective.

This is why leaders have to learn how to adopt a yes and style when these chance interactions occur.

‘Yes And':

– Is more open

– Collaborative

– Energising

– The idea becomes our idea rather than my idea

– Creates a safe space where left-field ideas can be developed.

The point is this.

By changing one word from but to and can have a profound impact on any conversation.

Yes and is a must learn behaviour for any current or aspiring leader.


Share This