How to turn a 'Yes but' into a 'Yes And'

How can you make sure that your audience suspends judgement

[Marjon Meijer who was fly on the wall during a CIA session -Cyriel In Action– working with 20 HR professionals. Let's share her observations]

How to turn a ‘Yes, but…’ into a ‘Tell me more!

‘Multifunctional’, ‘curious’, ‘impatient’... Cyriel Kortleven asks a group of HR managers about their talents. It takes no more than a split second for the Zoom chat to get filled up. ‘Connector’, ‘creative planner’, ‘connector’, ‘connector’… No urgent need for a change mindset here, it seems. Accordingly, the workshop that follows mainly offers tips to apply that mindset on the work floor in a consequent manner and take on board colleagues that don’t necessarily celebrate change.

Think about it: what happens when a problem is detected at work? “People want to solve it. But that is not as easy as it may seem. HR asks: do you have the proper skills to do this? Please get some training first! The employee gets the training and tries again. This time quality control is alarmed: have you checked our internal problem procedure? Please make a business plan first! When three weeks later that box is ticked as well, the CEO enters the stage: this problem is way too big! We take over. A multidisciplinary team will be formed to tackle the issue. Result: a new system that may work but at the same time makes everything more inefficient and complicated.” The group affirms.

“These inefficient systems don’t only exist in organisations, they exist in our heads as well. Our brains our lazy and tend to think within existing patterns.” A sorry thing once you notice the existing solutions start to fail. “Then you have to think out of the box as well as help people deal with the process of change.” Make change simple, as Cyriel’s tagline puts it.

“Oh no, an idea!”

But how? This workshops offers a three step solution: YES – AND – ACT. The yes concerns postponing judgment. Does the "Oh no, an idea!" attitude sound familiar to you? It does to this group of people. Idea killers such as ‘but… money!’ and ‘but… time!’ clearly are recognizable. One participant explains how at her work, every time someone uses a ‘but’, one euro should be put into a piggy bank. The proceeds are used to buy drinks. Cyriel presents the 3-minute rule, which means participants in a brainstorm are not allowed to use an idea killer ** for three minutes. If they do, they get a red card and they have to bring in two new ideas themselves. "A technique that has been doing the trick for the last twenty years."

And stands for looking at the world from a different perspective. “The most important thing I have learned in my career is that there is always an alternative. Think of the car battery factory in China that was converted into a mouth mask factory in three weeks at the start of the corona crisis. There are other ways and you can use that awareness to your advantage. ” Even in situations where the sense of urgency is not that high. One way to get to the and stage is the WWxD - What Would X Do? - technique that Cyriel explains. X being a well-known company, a community or maybe even a person. What would IKEA do? What would Harley Davidson do? What would… do? "Best is to yield lots of ideas, from which you can extract the most relevant ones to proceed with."

Should we stop making plans?

Finally: act. “In the Western world, we are very good at organizing meetings. As a result, relatively few real actions take place.” Or as one of the participants puts it: "Lots of talk, no deliverables." "Does this mean we should stop making plans? No. My proposal is: set up a rough plan and then take nano actions. Reserve an hour and ten euros to test one part of your plan. No writing out the details, no hearing what other people think about it: testing.”

“There is a good chance that you will end up with a ‘nearling’: an outcome that has been undertaken with the right intentions, but is not yet having the right effect. And you should be proud of that, because you have tried something. I think that's what companies need now. And that is where HR plays a crucial role: ensuring that we increasingly become learning organizations