Picture the scene: You’ve had an idea. It feels good. You take the idea to your boss and he says, ‘This is good, but….’ And proceeds to tell you a bunch of reasons why your idea is in fact, not good at all. We’ve all been there, and experienced that sinking feeling. The word but, and the consequences of but are disengaging.

Why is this on my mind?

Last week I spent an invigorating Friday afternoon coming up with a storm of creative ideas with Liam Barrington-Bush, aka @hackofalltrades. It was a little like being in a two piece band – one idea riffed to another. In these early stages everything goes into the pot and we’ll spend a few days tweaking notes here, adding a rest there. Refining and finessing the tune. Liam and I are alike enough that we can resonate, and unlike enough that we can still find room for dissonance and the occasional bum note in our thinking. It’s great fun.

At one point Liam stopped me. ‘Doug, you just swapped a but for an and, and you’ve done that several times today.’ We chatted about the more expansive, invitational nature of the and versus the but and concluded that tough though it is, and beats but.

The next time someone comes to you for guidance, don’t close them down with a but, open the possibilities with an and. It’s much more engaging, much more fun, much more useful.


Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

3 thoughts on “But…”

  1. It’s a good point well made. On various training I deliver I often remind the people attending of the same and we have a good discussion about it. I try and do it as much as I can too, and there’s no doubt in my mind it helps the conversation move in a much more collaborative fashion.

  2. Thanks Sukh and Ian. It’s not an easy shift to make, we seem to be conditioned to drive things to a close rather than let them flourish a while. Appreciate your feedback cheers.

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