decisions are made and permission is requested at your organization, which is
more likely to be heard?
Sorry, that's our policy / those are
the rules. I would love to help, but my hands are tied. Where will we ever find
the money for that? That's just not how we do things around
Let's see how we can make that
there is ONE difference between organizations who succeed wildly and those that
are always working their tails off to merely survive, it is the difference
between a culture that says, "I'll bet we can" instead of "I know we can't."
that lesson clearly during a recent trip, when our flight was delayed beyond
the time the car rental office closed. We called before our flight even took
off, explaining our dilemma to the manager. In response, he gave us his cell
phone number, and told us, "Call when you get in. I'll come get you, and we'll
just open the office and get you on your way."
is exactly what he did. As we thanked him for the 100th time for taking such
care of us late on a rainy Friday night, he turned to us and said, "I don't
make any money saying no."
organizations don't create great workplaces saying "no." We don't provide the
very best service possible for our clients and patrons and participants by
saying "no." And we can't make our communities amazing places to live by saying
reason is simple: "No" cuts off all possibilities.
Creating a Culture of
I once knew a military
commander with an innovative approach to his work. Unlike the typical
bureaucrat, under Bob's watch, his employees needed permission from a superior
to say "no." Without the ok from a higher-up, no one had the authority to say,
"Sorry, we can't do that." The only acceptable answer to doing things a bit
differently was, "Let's see how we can make this work."
Imagine every time your CEO brought a matter to the board, the board
responded with, "Let's see how we can make this work!"
Imagine every time an employee wanted to pursue a new idea, the
response from upper management was, "Great! Let's see how we can make that
Imagine every time a client had difficulty fitting her life into
your systems, that the response at the front lines was, "Let's see what we can
would happen if at your next board meeting, your board vowed to create a
Culture of Possibility?
your board and employees needed permission to say "no" - needed to refer to a
higher authority to say, "Sorry, we can't do that."
would happen if in every decision your organization made, from the most mundane
to the most significant, the expected answer was, "Let's see how we can make