Creatively saying Yes

You’re planning an offsite meeting with your team and you want to include a team-building component. Someone suggests a scavenger hunt around downtown, with teams and prizes. Immediately you think of several reasons this might not work:
·         you have no budget for prizes
·         someone on the team might have physical limitations that restrict their mobility
·         you don’t want anyone to get hurt by running and tripping on a sidewalk
How do you reply? Do these considerations become a reason to say no? They don’t have to be. Yes, there are many legitimate responsibilities and policies to consider. Instead of closing down discussion, there’s an opportunity to open up creative thinking and problem solving.
Share the considerations you need to account for, and do so in a way that builds upon that which came before. To keep ideas flowing, words matter. Try things like “yes, and…” or “also…” and “what if”. Create space for thinking and responding. Ask questions to stimulate thinking. Instead of “we can’t have prizes, we have no budget for prizes” try “what can we imagine for prizes that don’t draw on the department’s budget?”.
The same approach can be used for all sorts of problems. That course your admin wants to take, the overlapping holidays your officers have requested, the process change someone proposes, etc.
There are multiple benefits to this exploratory, affirming approach:
1.       You create an environment of possibility
·         it encourages more creative thinking on all sorts of topics.
·         it’s a more positive enjoyable environment to work in
2.       Including your staff in finding a solution builds engagement, which builds staff loyalty
3.       When you do ultimately have to say no to some things, your staff are more accepting of the answer, because it’s better understood.
4.       You will discover that your staff have solutions to problems you couldn’t solve on your own.


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