Yes to No Men

Scouring the landscape of our brief jaunt into the 21st century turns up more than a handful of billionaire CEO's fresh out of diapers. But when looking for relevant advice, I find myself consistently skipping this fresh batch of prodigies and going to a CEO with 30 years of experience building some 400 companies across a wide array of markets – Richard Branson.

Building one amazing company is certainly no small feat, but Branson has successfully built ventures in publishing, retail, aviation, mobile, auto racing and space exploration, to name just a few. So when Richard speaks, I listen.

And his latest treasure via his Linked In profile highlights his concerted effort to retain those who think differently and aren't afraid to say no.

The people who really make a difference are often those who don’t quite fit in. The ones who don’t act in the same way as everyone else and take risks rather than following the status quo.

Branson calls these folks mavericks and prides himself as one as well. In line with the thinking of the Harvard Business Review and their assertion of the clarity paradox, Branson highlights the damages of cultures that say yes too much.

The worst culture you can ingrain within a business is an atmosphere of saying yes to everything. When you are debating a new idea, those who disagree are crucial to getting the right result in the end. Yes men will only ever get so far.

This is a great insight from a man known as Dr. Yes within his organizations because of his willingness to tread the Virgin brand into just about any market that makes sense.

It’s nice when people agree, but if everyone thought along the same lines all the time, nothing would ever change. Every company needs mavericks.

Even Dr. Yes needs a Dr. No to keep everyone honest.

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