The power of “Yet”

The power and value of the the term “yet” is underrated. The power of continuous improvement is only attainable if you continue to challenge the status quo, even in small ways. Often the first step towards this is in our thinking – if we can start to see new possibilities then we can start to move in that direction. Being closed to possibilities might be hurting your ability to continuously improve.

Change and improvements can sometimes stall – there can be many reasons to this, including:

  • Not focusing on core problems
  • Too much change creating “change fatigue”
  • “This is how we’ve always done it”
  • Thinking that making a change is too big

With many of those things, sometimes it’s best to just introduce a small change in language to help push people’s thinking away from the “now” and into the “possible future”. Use the word “yet”. It can be a very simple and useful lead in to a provocation that allows you to start to move towards something better.

Instead ofTry…and then ask….
We don’t know how to do that.We don’t know how to do that, yet.What would it take to know that?
We haven’t achieved that goal.We haven’t achieved that goal, yet.What is the next simple thing we can do to move towards that goal?
We don’t know how the customers will react to that.We don’t know how the customers will react to that, yet.How can we find out?
The team’s morale hasn’t improvedThe team’s morale hasn’t improved, yet. What is impacting their morale?
What can I do to help?
We don’t know how to validate that.We don’t know how to validate that, yet. Is there a safe to fail experiment we can run to find out?

As you can see from the above, we take a statement that sounds quite negative or closed and turn it into the chance of something possible. It also encourages the follow up questions to explore the possible.

Using the word “yet” is a small change in language, but it can light the way to your next steps. It costs nothing to try it and it may open you to possibilities you haven’t considered yet. Try it out and see if you can move towards a new possibility.

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