When NO can be a Good Thing!

When NO can be a Good Thing!

The innovation team has spent the last year telling anyone and everyone (that would listen) two things…

When you hear someone give an idea, “say YES…” followed by “AND…”. Build on that idea! The words, “NO” and “BUT” hinder creativity.     

Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure! You can only become a failure in two instances: when you don’t try at all and when you fail, but don’t learn from that fail. 

This week I was challenged to find an instance when the word NO could be interpreted as being good for innovation and creativity. I didn’t even have to think about it. After all if you pitch an idea to your boss and get a “NO”, (due to budget restrictions, or resource limitations etc) then it’s a fail that you have to learn from, but the real question isn’t simply why did I fail, it’s how do I turn that NO into a YES?

Every NO you hear regarding an idea that you’ve been working on takes you a step closer to a YES.  Objections and reasons why a project can’t go ahead are simply stepping stones to the idea being a wildly successful idea.  Everyone, including the leaders in our business, experience rejection of their ideas on occasion.  Learning to deal with that rejection well can only help you.

My advice? Understand the NO. Why is it a NO and not a YES? As well as tight budgets and low levels of resource, it could be time sensitive, it could be that your idea is already being done elsewhere or has already been done elsewhere. Instead of becoming disheartened, and giving up emotionally, keep trying. Be positive, learn from the mistake and shake it off! The best thing you can do is to stop thinking of the NO as a STOP sign and think of it instead as a caution sign. There are obstacles ahead. What are the dangers? How can you minimize those risks? It could even be that your boss needs more information and is not ready to decide yet. Think of the NO as an opportunity for you to understand something you missed in your process. In many cases you can actually be MORE creative and innovative because you had to get around that roadblock.

That being said, it maybe that NO does mean NO. At this point I refer you back to the original two statements. A NO isn’t failure. It’s simply a place to learn and grow. I’m sure if you can do that, your next idea will be great!

Alesandra Blakeston, Innovation Program Manager


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