Susan Moger and Tudor Rickards
The power of Yes And thinking is explored within a workshop on Taking Tough Decisions: A creative problem-solving approach. as part of the Fifth National Medical Leadership conference 17th April 2015 at the Macron Stadium, Bolton
This post is based on an earlier document which we used regularly with MBA students at Manchester Business School over a period of years. We have retained it in its original form, and appended references to subsequent work.
We believe that the climate for creative ideas can often be negative. As a shorthand, we talk about a YES BUT climate in which people are prone to respond to any new idea with a ‘Yes But’. This negative mind-set is based on unconsciously held beliefs and we can weaken these by becoming conscious, to the extent of becoming self-conscious of ‘Yes Butting’. In this way we begin to reduce the damage caused by excessive Yes Butting by substituting ‘Yes and’.
‘Yes but’ implies ‘There is something wrong with this idea. I want nothing further to do with this bad idea’.
In contrast, ‘Yes And’ implies ‘There is something that can be improved about this idea. I am willing to work at it to improve it as best I can’.
To take a simple example:
‘I have just thought of the idea of flypaper to go in cars to stop insects distracting you when you are driving’.
‘Yes But … wherever you put it someone would get stuck sooner or later’.
‘Yes And … if you could design it so that passengers never get stuck it would be even better. How about an insecticide block or the paper inside a mesh with fly attractant. Or how about combining it with the air freshener?
Note: In follow-up studies of participants on our courses, more find they have applied ‘Yes And’ to benefit than any other technique.
Since we wrote the manual [sometime in the 1990s] we have continued to find Yes And a powerful means of overcoming negativity, promoting creativity, addressing tough leadership dilemmas, and resolving communication difficulties. It engages with issues of positive psychology, discursive communications theory.and conflict resolution approaches.
We acknowledge encouragement from Dr Rebecca Baron for reviving this note as a contribution to The National Leadership Conference, and Shropshire NHS for the creative image urging Health Checks..
The overall Yes And approach was published as The Power of the And in The Handbook for creative team leaders . We further revised it in The Routledge Companion To Creativity, and in Dilemmas of Leadership