The cult of the positive

There remains, in PR circles a depressing cult of the positive. I want to take a brief moment to celebrate the power of negativity. According to the 1 PR person I asked, only relentless positivity is acceptable in brainstorming. You can only say "Yes and..." not "Yes but" "More is always better" You are permitted "No negatives" How often have you heard these platitudes trotted out, and then heard 20 crap ideas flow forth, alternatively prosaic or ludicrous, followed by a period of despair and recrimination, whereupon the problem owner implements the plan they'd intended all along, jettisoning all the good ideas, and the participants' goodwill in the process. Sometimes it's just bad problem-framing, but more often it's a result of the more is better mentality, which taps just a tiny portion of our brains. I find de Bono's Six hats a much more liberating model of creativity. De Bono uses a metaphor of six hats, to ensure that all aspects of our creative intellect can be tapped in resolving tough problems. He allows you to put on a black hat and critique. He allows a white hat for listening and questioning, a yellow hat for seeking our opportunities, a green hat for pure lateral thinking, a blue hat for control and self-analysis, and the joyous Red hat for a pure emotional response. According to de Bono, it is OK to be negative! And it's equally OK to be emotional in business. Just so long as you know you're doing it...


Blogger Johnnie M said...

I agree, if that's not too positive a response. I think fake positivity is tiresome. And if people are feeling critical, sometimes it's better expressed than suppressed.

I do value the "Yes, And" mentality but I like it applied with subtlety. As in the Yes part is not necessarily about agreeing with you, it may just be acknowledging what you say before going on. Sometimes, saying NO is actually a more full acknowledgement than YES.

Six Hats is an interesting tool but in the end a really high-functioning group doesn't need to play roles, it has the sort of bandwidth where people engage with passion and compassion.

Nuff said.

8/23/2004 07:14:00 pm  

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