My Photo

Sign Up for My Free Newsletter

  • Enter Your Email:

February 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

« Who Can Tell A Story? | Main | Is radical management just a new form of corporatism? »

August 18, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jen Turi

Great post Steve. I recently wrote some similiar suggestions and discussed the idea of inspiration versus motivation. You can see it here if you are interested.

I really think a trait that a good manager must possess is humility. If you are humble you are more open to others' ideas and alternative solutions. It seems as though those that manage by saying no should consider why. The successful business model no longer operates as a command and control hierarchy but more of a connect and collaborate scenario. This is not possible without humility and listening skills. Thanks for the post!

Steve Denning

Jen--Thanks for your reply and the great link. I agree that command-and-control "no longer operates", but somehow it still lives on. Finding ways to give it a decent burial is critical!


Good post. I'm wondering if "I have a better idea" can be received as "No." Perhaps a better response is "what if we..." proposing the better idea as one that builds on the first.

Steve Denning

David, Great point! I agree: that's a better way to phrase it. "What if.." is always good, open-minded, conversational. "I have a better idea" could come across as "I'm the boss. Hear ye!" It would depend on the tone. By contrast, it's hard to to go wrong with "What if?" Steve

Lesley Shneier

Steve, you make some excellent points. Hearing "no" to ideas definitely shuts down the follower/employee, and also limits suggestions of any subsequent "good ideas" that he/she may have, thereby stifling any creative and innovative ideas. This happens all the time in organizations big and small.

However, I'm going to put you on the spot with your "three and only 3 answers" above: when I proposed a knowledge fair to you, you privately thought this wouldn't work, but didn't say anything. More importantly, to me, you publicly supported my efforts. If you had voiced your concerns - that "we're not ready yet", for instance - the whole thing would have died. Yet, you openly supported me, and watched the fair grow into something that has been replicated by us and others ever since.

So where does this sort of response fit in? Perhaps a wise leader adopts a "wait and see" stance, at least in the short run, to see if the organization is indeed ready for something innovative, while being ready to rescue the employee in case it doesn't work out?

Steve Denning

Lesley--No problem. I gave it a "1", i.e. yes, do it! I saw the risks, but I also saw your passion. I didn't bother you with my misgivings, which might have caused you to stop and have second thoughts.

If you recall, in those early days, we are going through hell, and desperate to do anything that would show progress. And when you're going through hell, you keep going! The last thing you do is to stop and agonize about whether you are doing the right thing.

We tried a number of things. Some of them didn't work. Some did, like the knowledge fair.

The key is to keep experimenting and learn from experience. Kill the dogs, but celebrate the successes!


Jeff Hoye

Love the idea of not saying no. If you're a leader that's about learning (for the sake of the ind. and company), then sit with that person and explore the idea. Who knows? One of you may come away enlightened. Either way the conversation / decision goes, they were seen or heard. Odds are you'll hear more from them again. And who knows, you as leader may have just started to see something from a different pt of view.
(Steve, I'm a big fan of your books and what you're about. I always make time to hear what you have to say on leadership).

Health News

yeah truly a great site.I really enjoyed my visit.

The comments to this entry are closed.