Never Mind the Naysayers


One Simple Phrase Stifles Business Success

“That won’t work.”

How often have your heard these three little words? They’re the enemy of innovation, and are all to common in board rooms, staff meetings and pitches.

“That won’t work in my business.”

“That won’t work here.”

“That won’t work for us.”

“That won’t work because…”

This insidious phrase cropped up in a conversation I had recently with a group of business owners. One suggested an advertising program he was excited about, and another immediately responded, “That won’t work in my business.”

He jumped to an immediate conclusion, as many of us do. But’s what’s really behind that assumption, and how does it affect your potential business success? Let’s take a look.

“That won’t work…” is typically a variation on “I don’t want to” based on preconceived notions and lack of interest in exploring new options. It really means:

  • I tried it once, and failed.
  • Someone told me it won’t work.
  • That’s not consistent with my plan right now.
  • I’m not interested in your input.
  • I don’t want to change.
  • I’m afraid to try it.

The problem with this is that frequently, test different options, or get expert assistance. All of these require effort and for a busy executive, saying no can seem a lot easier.

Unfortunately, squashing ideas with this split-second response can kill growth and innovation. Don’t let it.

After you read this, tune in to conversations around you. Do variations on “It won’t work” creep up regularly in your business? If so, make it stop.

Be open and reception, and encourage your employees do the same. When an idea is presented, listen carefully before responding. If you disagree, dig a little. Ask questions like…

“Why do you think that will work for us?”

“If we try that, what obstacles should we watch for?”

“What are some examples of how or where this has been successful?”

Still dubious? Explore your own assumptions and how they impact your business success. Is your response motivated by past history such as a personal experience, anecdotal evidence or even hearsay (you know, if “everyone” says it, it must be true.”)

It’s possible that what seems to be conventional wisdom is simply an outmoded presumption that needs to be put to rest. When you take the time to challenge the norm, the results can be dramatic.

Many wildly successful people have been told, “That will never work,” and wisely ignored that advice. Nearly every industry-transforming breakthrough is preceded by someone blocking the innovation for fear of trying, fear of failure or (even worse) fear of success.

Don’t be one of them. Let “That will never work” be a rallying cry, inspiring you to prove the naysayers wrong.

Image via Flickr

Why? The Secret Question for Business Growth

Accept or Understand? Five-year-olds intuitively know something that most of us have forgotten. The key to understanding almost anything is hidden behind a simple three letter word. WHY. Rather than simply accepting what they’re told, a common response from an inquisitive kid is, “Why?” Unfortunately, as we get older we often assume that asking why isRead More

What’s Your Perspective?

Enhance Your Perception When I was studying art history in college, one of the first things I learned was a key point about the Renaissance. Europe’s emergence from the Middle Ages was marked by the introduction of perspective to painting. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you see the difference between the flat planes ofRead More

When to Press ‘Pause’ on Your Priorities

What’s the trick to better business focus? Just breathe Jim Beach, founder of School for Startups was interviewing me the other day for his radio show. Mid-way through the interview Jim said, “This topic of sitting down and reassessing has come up three times in the first 11 minutes…. Why do you think that the pause is so important?” The answerRead More

What’s Wrong with Marketing Today?

The trouble with marketing? Everyone is doing it. That’s not a surprise. Marketing is imperative for a business to grow. Without some sort of marketing, how will customers find you? Unless you’ve got a super-exclusive business that trades on being  best-kept secret, marketing your business is essential. Because it’s so important, feelings about marketing runRead More

Twitter   Pinterest   Facebook   LinkedIn   Google+

Need Advice Now?

Get "Clarity on Call"

If you have a pressing need for some quick advice, try Joey's express access consulting and get help - fast.

For details, visit

learn more

Get the Book


Find us on...    Management Consulting Connection Featured in Alltop Social Media Today Blogger Online Marketing