Your Fans and the Importance of “Yes And”

Yes but chicken

“Yes but” chicken

The last week has been a mixture of writing, researching and starting that very exciting and nerve-wracking experience of telling people “I’m writing a book”. While I’m very excited about it, I can’t expect the world to stop and pay attention. I can’t expect everyone to be as excited as me, so before I rushed out and told the first person I saw, I made a list. I made a list of all the people I felt would be genuinely happy and excited for me. And would not say that terrible word I don’t even want to commit to paper…


You know those people, right? Someone will come up with an idea, and suddenly, it’s like a chicken has entered the room, bobbing its head looking for food… “Yes, but”. The whole energy around that word is so palpable I’m not going to type it again. Do you have those friends who say “I’m just playing the devil’s advocate” when you’re sharing your dream or a concept that’s new? Or: “I’m not sure about that, have you thought about <insert their idea> instead?” We all do. This is why it is so important to do a little stakeholder “audit” before sharing your dream.

The Dream

Disney have designed their whole creativity strategy around this. They always start an idea in the “Dream Room”. In this room, the dream is built. Everyone is very positive and excited about the dream. Everyone adds more value to it and discusses how it could be successful. It is normally in a beautiful space, preferably with a nice view of a blue sky. No negativity is allowed. The dream is still new. It is but a small plant that needs food and water and the energy of the sun. Once the dream is built, it goes to the “Spoiler Room”. In this room, everyone comes up with ideas about why it won’t work. Negativity is now allowed, in fact, it is compulsory! Everything that could possibly go wrong is brought up and captured. This is done until everyone has had their say.


Then it’s time for the “Reality Room”. This is about taking everything from both the Dream Room and the Spoiler Room and looking at the dream objectively. Given all the good, and given all the risks, is this still worth doing? What are some of the solutions to the potential problems? Are some of the exciting positive things really real? This is a great opportunity to refine the idea and start a plan of action.

Start with “Yes And”

I recently participated in a workshop where one of the exercises was to partner up with someone and have a conversation. Every time it was your turn to speak, you had to start with “yes and…” Naturally, the conversation was a bit stilted, punctuated with a few laughs to start with, but after a while, it really started to flow. The person I was partnered up with I didn’t know very well, and by the end we were firm friends. The experience was extremely uplifting and positive.

It got me thinking about the people in my life I have “yes, and” conversations with. And the people who are the chickens: “yes, but”. There is no right or wrong or good or bad, it’s just that when you are building a new dream like I am, I want to stay right away from those chickens. I made the mistake of having the website homepage open when a well meaning colleague pointed out it was probably too feminine and the front picture should be manly. I was about to feel upset, when I remembered: Don’t focus on the Chickens!

If a pig and chicken went into a restaurant business together and called it Bacon and Eggs, it wouldn’t really be a fair partnership, as the chicken would just be involved, and the pig would be committed.*

So, before rushing out to tell all and sundry, I made a list of the people I know would say “yes, and”. These people have offered me encouragement, support and ideas. Once the dream solidifies, there will be room for the critics. Just not now.

Back to the book! Thank you for reading.

*An old “Agile” joke, and definitely helpful when determining who needs to be at what meeting – focus on the Pigs!



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About Emma Sharrock

Emma is the author of The Agile Project Manager: Thrive in Change with Agile. An experienced change leader, Emma is passionate about working with people to facilitate successful change. Emma utilises Agile techniques, coupled with the Agile mindset to coach leaders and teams to achieve their business goals.