A Culture of Yes

I have a friend, Chris Lema who loves to write about how much he says no, so much so that he has an entire tag dedicated to it. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Your ability to decipher the noise from the rest, is a bit of an art, and saying yes to the wrong thing could take you down a rabbit hole that will never let you see the light of day. I’ve seen a number of companies fail to this, always chasing the golden nugget.

It is however, a bit misleading to you as an entrepreneur, more importantly as a manager and leader (there is a difference).

The Subtle Difference

When you read posts like the one my friend writes, or that of others that love to say no, they’re often focused on one thing — saying NO externally.

Quick side note: Another friend of mine, Jason Cohen, A Smart Bear, has another very interesting methodology worth reading and considering if you’re looking on how to handle the dilemma of saying no: Never Say “No”, But Rarely Say “Yes”.

When running your business I fear that the same methodology doesn’t necessarily apply. While I won’t argue the point of saying no externally, I’d encourage you to evaluate how you say it internally.

Evolving Your Management Style

As a manager or leader of your organization, someone has entrusted you with providing guidance to a team, project, or product. You’re responsible for some aspect of the business. This level of responsibility is often an amazing feeling, someone actually trusts you, believes in you.

For some, this comes natural, for others not so much. It brings about a certain level of ownership for the tasks at hand.

You feel the need to define the direction and actions to arrive at the your desired goal[s]. This often leads to a top-down approach to providing instruction, to do this, do that. This is where I want to go, and as such this is what you will do. This in it of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when coupled with blinders it can be catastrophic.

Blinders equate to your inability to listen and account for others perspectives and solutions.

Maybe we should try this approach? No, we’re doing this.

I find myself plagued with this as of late, I believe it’s brought about by fear of failure. If I can’t control the uncertainty of the future, then I’ll surely account for that risk by dictating the way forward.

Ironically though, I fear that this mindset is highly ineffective in the businesses we are trying to build.

For those of us that have come from legacy business models (i.e., working for the big corporations) the concept of not dictating is foreign to us. It’s how we were groomed, and yet we left those domains for the lack of freedom to think and work outside of the confines of boundaries.

How funny though that in the presence of organizational and workflow chaos we immediately attempt to resort to what we consider the norm. They are our safety nets.

Growing companies spawn chaos, which most managers try to control by creating more processes. While some of these companies maybe be necessary to help the company scale, they should be delayed for as long as possible.

How Google Works

As start-ups we thrive in the world of chaos, organized chaos as my business partner and I call it. And yet, while we thrive in this chaos we expect order and structure below. Why is this?

I encourage you to work outside of your comfort zone and say ***Yes*** more, internally that is. Allow those working at your company the freedoms they require. It doesn’t mean you can’t chart the path, just be sure to get out of the way. How they get there is part of the journey, theirs and yours.

My first word of advice is this: Say yes. In fact, say yes as often as you can. Saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to new experiences, and new experiences will lead you to knowledge and wisdom…

Michael Hogan

Remember how beautiful an experience it was not to know? Your experiences are what have allowed you to do what you have, now embrace theirs and see where it takes you.

Here is an interesting challenge:

Ask those that work for you: What are the top 5 things you think need to be done in your domain?

Now, let them do it.

Who knows, they might surprise you. They might be closer aligned with your vision than you ever imagined.

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