Monday, June 23, 2014

There is No “No”, Only “Yes, If...”

I just got done reading “Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” by Marty Sklar. Sklar was a Disney Imagineering Legend and Ambassador. This isn’t a full review of the book...mainly because I didn’t love the book. There are a lot of stories about how they built different features and attractions for all of the Disney Parks, but there wasn’t much detail of how they accomplished what they did. He gives brief descriptions of obstacles they had to overcome. Then, Walt Disney would tell them to find a way to do it, and they would. He just didn’t say much about how they did it.

The title of the book is a bit misleading. It should have been called “Yes, If...”. That was the one recurring theme of the book. Sklar described the culture as one in which you didn’t say “no”, you would say “yes, if...”. They would then work to make the “if” happen. This was my biggest takeaway from the book and it’s very applicable to many of the things I work on, and probably on what all of you (you, reading this right now) deal with.

In my career, I’ve always worked on projects and campaigns that directly impacted customers. One of my strengths is that I understand the customer perspective. When I work on a project or implement new features or programs, I always take time to think how a customer will interact with whatever the new program will be. Sometimes that requires adjusting our current thinking to make the customers’ experiences better which means saying “no”. Granted, I almost always have a suggestion of what I think would work better, but sometimes it comes off as being negative.

“Yes, if...” accomplishes exactly what I’m trying to say, but also does much more. Instead of saying “No, Plan A won’t work because customers won’t get it (or whatever example).”, try saying “Yes, Plan A will work great if we can solve this customer issue.” This reframing of the statement eliminates the “no” and the negativity, plus the defensiveness that may result. It keeps the team engaged in the original plan and united in addressing the issues that can keep the program from being successful.

I’ve begun using “Yes, if...” anytime my inclination is to say no. One example came about just a few weeks ago. We’ve had a lot of in-store sweepstakes in the past that have not had positive results, so we had moved away from doing them. Recently, we were presented with a new opportunity with a great prize. Instead of saying “no”, I said “Yes, we can do it if we can make it an online promotion where we can better promote the sweepstakes, drive more benefit to our overall programs and report on the success.” The result is that we’ve put together what we expect to be an impactful online contest complemented by specific in-store promotional tactics that will bring added visibility to the promotion. It runs in July and I’m excited for the results.

Do you have any similar tips or experiences? Share them in the comments below! Thanks for reading. As always, if you like my blog, please sign up to receive it by email. Also, please share my posts with your friends!

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