The answer is no.

The answer is no. Now what was your question?

How many people do you know like that in your organisation? There aren’t many things that upset my usually cheery disposition, but this is one of them. People who say no, put the wall up, close their minds, before they have really understood what you are suggesting, what you are trying to achieve.


What makes people behave like this? There have been some interesting discussions in the HR twitterverse recently about fear, along with a great blog from Doug Shaw . I think fear is part of it, but culture plays a big part.

Whatever the underlying reason why this behaviour happens, we must find a way through it, past it, over the top of it; find ways to say yes.

We work in a world in which change is happening at an exponential pace. The rate of technological change shows no signs of slowing down. There are multiple factors impacting the workplace and organisation, and they all lead to one conclusion. We must be agile. Over at the Hackathon there’s a debate going on about adaptability – it is well worth a read. We can all list examples of companies that have failed to rise to that challenge and are now either zombies or just plain dead.

If we say no to suggestions and to new ideas, because we are scared, because we don’t want to take a risk or just plain aren’t interested then we risk stifling innovation, frustrating our talented employees, staying stuck in the past and therefore passed by.

It’s hard to say yes sometimes. It means putting yourself out there, taking a chance. So how do you begin to challenge the knee jerk no? In my experience, it starts with someone being a pain in the arse. Someone who asks difficult questions. Challenges the process. Upset the status quo – but in a good way. They are prepared to push that new idea past anyone that says no, if it is the right thing to do.

If someone has to be a pain in the arse, why not make it you?