Yes People

There are a lot of arguments to be made about where innovation comes from, how to encourage it and what mechanisms with the economic ecosystem are best able to support it.  A lot of people think about this as they try and figure out where they want to make their professional mark.

A startup may not be the right environment for everyone, but I think the single biggest differentiating aspect of the startup innovation community is the preponderance of “yes” people.  I don’t mean any kind of sycophant.  I mean someone who says “yes” to new people, new ideas, and new possibilities.

“No” people are easy to spot–and they disproportionally work in big media companies, banks, and unfortunately, government and academic institutions.  They feel like they know the way things have been and will be.  They know pretty much everyone they need to know.  Social media is a chore to them, because the idea of following the thoughts, readings and discoveries of a mass of likeminded people just doesn’t offer much.

Change is not within the vocabulary of a no person.  Their first response to a new idea is why it would never work or wouldn’t get adopted.  They are never the ones to lead the charge, risking social capital or reputation, to champion something innovative.  They don’t strive to adopt and learn, but rather they lament the disruption of the world around them–putting down the disruptors rather than reaching out to them to learn how they do it.

A yes person is genuinely open to new ideas.  They have accepted change as an inevitability and they make honest attempts to not only participate in the change, but to drive it towards positive win-win results.

That’s why finding a corp dev person within a large organisation who is willing to go to bat for you and to champion you is a godsend.  It’s really hard to be successful with models that depend on getting in front of someone else’s big audience and a complicated business development deal without someone who has that innovative “yes!” personality driving things on the other side.  Otherwise, the whole thing will just get dragged down by the “no’s”.

What category do you fit in?  Have you consistently been a yes?  Do you feel like there have been situations that have caused you a lot of frustration and made you a pessimistic no when change and innovation is concerned?