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Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Every organization has it's cadre of "yes men" (and women).  These are folks who endear themselves to the folks up the food chain by saying "yes" even when challenges are warranted, by nodding compliantly when they know the proposal ain't gonna work, by pretending to follow the company line when they have no intention of toeing the company line.

Oddly, these YES WOMEN (and MEN) often end up with elevated titles.  They frequently become the gatekeepers of the permission pipeline that is so often a feature of organizations (the larger the organization, the more layers of permission are required to get meaningful stuff done).

In effect, these YES MEN (and WOMEN) become the primary purveyors of "NO!"  

No need to cry in our beer.  It's the natural order of things.  However, we (those of us who work in organizations) have two options available to us when faced with the YesButNo gang:
1) We can fume, cuss, and shrink back into compliance and meaningless work, OR
2) We can figure out ways to work around or through the NO-Sayers.

Some possibilities for your consideration:

  • We are best to refrain from waging war with the YesButNo folks.  They're rarely bad people, but rather, are usually just looking out for their own self-interests (just like we do).
  • We can arm ourselves thoroughly with information and expertise that gives us powerful credibility in the area of our interests and initiatives.
  • We can "work the room" broadly to inform others of our positions/interests, while being careful not to be subversive.  Sell the idea without disparaging the YesButNo folks.  Transparency - Honesty - Trust - Openness are powerful tools of influence.
  • We can reduce our position/belief/initiative/idea to very memorable sound bytes that we relentlessly push into the arena of ideas.  Repetition has a powerful impact on the human brain.
  • We can exercise patience (with tenacity) in promoting our thoughts on the relevant topic.
If in fact our ideas are worthy, the YesButNo gang will often turn into the YesButYes gang.  It'll be in their self-interest to do so.  

Don't forget to thank them profusely and publicly when they come around to "yes."  It'll be in our self-interest to do so.  ;-)

EVERYBODY wins (which is a pretty good organizational objective).

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