We’re probably dating ourselves in referencing LL Cool J’s song, and, no– that’s not a typo. Your but (one ‘t’) is getting in the way. What do we mean? IT is often seen as the department of ‘no.’
It’s not that we’re actually saying ‘no’ to every request– so why the bad reputation? Think about how often you find yourself in a meeting where you’re being asked if something is possible.
The typical IT answer is, “Yes, but…” and then we go on to list all of the associated challenges.
You’re Not Wrong, But…
When you get asked if something is possible and you reply with, “Yes, but…” the challenges you list aren’t likely wrong. There are challenges and hurdles to overcome before the task can be successfully executed. And you think you’re just doing your job in bringing those potential pitfalls up– but to those making the ask? It sounds like a lot like, “No, we’re not going to do this.”
Even worse, it makes you look like a barrier to progress. A few decades ago, our co-workers didn’t have options. Today, they do. Instead of countering your but, they will find a team that enthusiastically says, “Yes!” Often those teams exist outside of your organization, which means you will eventually be relegated to simply operating instead of innovating.
There’s a Better Way
We need to take a page out of the vendor’s playbook. Start with that emphatic, “Yes!” Create buy-in. Get the user excited about the project. Next, create a project plan where you can begin to insert where and when those challenges need to be addressed.
Our job is to enable innovation. Nothing new has been created without hurdles to overcome. This isn’t telling you to sweep potential issues under the rug, but rather, changing when we address those challenges and how.
The Power of And
There’s a great commercial where a kid gets an ice cream cone, looks up and says, “And?” Boom! His ice cream cone has sprinkles, chocolate, and a cherry on top. Words carry weight and connotation. “But” is synonymous with a negative response. “And” comes across as a collaborative statement. Which statement below sounds better?
“Sure, we can help with that, but there are a lot of challenges to overcome.”
“Sure, we can help with that and we can start mapping out how to overcome the challenges we’ll encounter.”
You can instantly feel a better vibe or energy from the second statement. We’re in it together in statement number two!
Your words have power. Lines of business are going around IT because of little words like but. So remove them from your vocabulary. Act more like a salesperson. Build on the initial idea. Be excited about the project with your partner. Then figure out how to go around, through, or over the walls that pop up.