Unlock the power of “yes” to drive creativity and innovation

Duncan Wardle

Next time you hear a bad idea in the office, try saying “Yes.” That is, fight that impulse to say, “No, and here’s why your idea isn’t going to work.” That negative response shuts down creativity, says Duncan J. Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney.

Instead, try replying with a positive “Yes and …?” Ask encouraging follow-up questions—not to point out your colleague’s flawed thinking, but to help create a collaborative environment. Build a process that fosters creativity and imagination, and see where that leads.

More on the power of “Yes and.” Those words “transform the power of your idea into our idea,” Wardle explains. That transformation makes the idea bigger and accelerates its potential opportunities. It encourages collaboration, and from that collaboration, we can create new products, businesses, and processes.

Plus, by saying “Yes and,” we demonstrate to our coworkers that we honestly want to explore new ideas, not shut them down. That’s why he encourages asking questions that turn the discussion into an impromptu brainstorming session. Don’t throw up roadblocks meant to trip up your colleague. Instead, throw out your own ideas too. Be collaborative: “Here’s an idea, let’s see how to make it work.”

This is one of four techniques that Wardle offered to attendees at a packed session at Oracle OpenWorld. Read more in my short article for Forbes, “4 Techniques To Unlock Creativity, Including Saying ‘Yes’.”