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Category: Culture, Innovation

The Power of ‘Show me’

Jim Carrey’s character from the 2008 Yes Man-movie humorously depicts the life of bank loan manager Carl Allen, who’s lost in a spiral of negative attitude until a self-help seminar turns him around. To every suggestion he starts responding with a positive “Yes“, helping him meeting new people, learning a new language, picking up new hobbies, and ultimately finding new romance. What he also realizes is that a well-tuned balance between yes and no is the way to go.

It’s pretty easy to dismiss an idea when you hear it. And natural instincts doesn’t make it easier for us. Humans tend to fear novelty, as this may be dangerous. Predictable patterns make survival easier and let us feel safer. New ideas mean change, adaption, effort, and potential death or even worse, like losing your job.

I know myself well enough that my initial reaction is most often “No way” and it required my awareness and a lot of effort to stop myself in the tracks of saying that. I have talked about some words that kill innovation in a recent blog and here is one that can encourage innovation.

When somebody comes with an idea, instead of dismissing it, respond with a simple and honest “Show me!” And then open yourself up for an unbiased look at a new idea. What you will learn is that giving the idea more thought, having it explained and shown to you, being in a question and answering mode will change your initial gut reaction to a more nuanced view of the idea.

Use phrases such as “Yes, and…” or “Can you do this with it as well?” to play with and build on that idea. You may discover even better ideas through that process.

As did Jim Carrey’s character ultimately, you’ll find a balance as well. Some ideas after all are really not that great, but rather assume an idea has potential. By giving an idea a chance with the words “Show me!” you’ll increase your chance of hitting the jackpot without risking the dump principal problem. Say Yes more often…