Are the nay-sayers killing your company?


If new ideas or big challenges are constantly greeted with "No’s" or rolled eyes, you have a big problem.

When Intel wanted to land the computer chip contract for Apple TV, it didn’t submit a low bid, favorable terms, or promises of extra service. Intel modified their chip to make it thinner and small enough to fit into Apple’s set-top box.

The mindset that was needed to make the modification and make it work is an important part of this success story. According to the Wall Street Journal, after hearing some nay-saying, Intel CEO Paul Otellini pushed his engineers to focus on how it could be done, not if it could be done.

Instead of spending time grumbling and arguing about feasibility, their energies went into making it happen. And make it happen, they did. Otellini’s leadership brought out the best in his people, instead of succumbing to the voices of those who say, “It can’t be done.”

Perhaps you’ve run into the “it can’t be done” types. They also use language like “it won’t work,” “that’s not a good idea,” and various other ways of saying NO. We’ve seen plenty of them.

But what if there were more leaders like Paul Otellini – who anticipated the pushback and knew how to inspire and challenge his team to look at things differently, focus on what needed to be done, and find a way to make it happen?

A colleague who works with Apple told me recently that that is exactly the attitude that Steve Jobs instilled in his leadership team: “Don’t tell me no. Tell me how.” Perhaps that’s where Otellini learned it. Or vice versa.

It’s an attitude that works – and doesn’t succumb to the nay-sayers.

RECOMMENDATION   Imagine what an culture that rejects NO for a culture that embraces HOW could do for your company’s performance. And America’s future.

Carl Francis

From our archives