Introducing your three new power words by Scholar Frith Hookway

Don’t you find it’s often the cheesy lines we come across that actually make the most sense?

Two days ago I did a full day workshop with the Challenger consultancy, eatbigfish. I’ve had an agency crush on these guys ever since I stumbled across Adam Morgan’s book ‘Eating The Big Fish’ about 6 years ago. Their approach to strategic design via workshops and full stakeholder involvement makes so much sense to me, so to spend the day doing exactly this with them was a ton of fun.

It was a pretty open, free flowing forum but they did lay down one rule:

“You aren’t allowed to say ‘we can’t because’, instead you have to say ‘we can if’” — an idea that was first coined by Colin Kelly, Director of R&D at Warburtons.

And, as all true human insights go, this rule was met with an acknowledging, self aware chuckle-nod from everyone in the room; it’s such a bad habit and we all fall into.

The fact is, excuses are easier to find the opportunities. However, if we create a language construct which means we aren’t allowed to back away from something, we force ourselves to think how it could be achievable.

Often the ‘if’ is big.

‘We can if we manage to coordinate every traffic light in London to go red at the same time’

‘we can if we have 10 more people on our team’

‘we can if we get the Spice Girls back together’

It’s easy for these ‘ifs’ to feel a bit too lofty. But they give us something to at least have a go at working toward, or scale back from. They make us think differently.

It’s a small change to make for the big impact you may see.


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