Yes BUT, No BUT, Yes BUT …

Today, a guest blog from Maurice de Castro, leadership expert and speaker, talking about his personal experience in leadership:

From a leadership perspective one of the most crippling environments you can ever find yourself in is the Yes BUT culture. Those two small yet devastatingly powerful words only serve to maintain the status quo and deprive innovation, creativity and imagination of the fuel it needs to see a company thrive. A number of years ago I was asked to lead a particular business through a rather dark time. Terribly low morale, very high costs, poor sales performance, low customer satisfaction and so on.

The business had created its own debilitating web of Yes BUT’s” so that nothing could or would ever change. It was full of good people working extremely hard but trapped in their own creation. Have you ever watched a fly try to free itself from a spider’s web?  Well it’s a little like me trying to stop my wife buying yet another pair of shoes, it ranks on the impossible list. The fly has to be freed.

After many months of sleepless nights I finally found the solution. I asked a toy manufacturer to provide me with 1000 plain white round squeezy stress balls. On each ball I had the words Yes BUT printed on one side with a big red cross struck right through the middle of the words. On the other side of the ball I had the words “Yes AND” printed. I invited every member of staff to join me at a large local theatre where I very clearly presented our Yes BUT dilemma and gave everyone their own ball. I asked them to take theirs ball with them everywhere they went in the business and if they EVER heard the words “Yes BUT” used I asked them to throw their ball at that person as hard as they could regardless of their position. For the next 3 months balls were flying everywhere and I mean everywhere, it was like a war zone. Within 12 months everything changed. Everything! Two small words made the massive difference between success and failure.

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