Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Buzz Price and the Power of Yes, if...

Valerie J. Nelson's article in the August 17, 2010 Los Angeles Times,  paid tribute to Harrison "Buzz" Price of the Stanford Research Institute, who had passed away two days earlier. As you can see from the plaque above, Buzz was a Disney Legend.

Nelson referred to Buzz as "an engineer turned theme-park strategist whose research led Walt Disney to place Magic Kingdoms in Anaheim and Orlando..." The article also quoted Michael Eisner that Price "was as much responsible for the success of the Walt Disney Co. as anybody except Walt Disney himself..." 

What was it that enabled Price to have such a significant influence on Disney's success?

Price was frequently called on to evaluate the viability of Disney projects.  He developed a research method that suited Walt and Roy’s needs perfectly. The method took a “Yes if...”line of approach. 

Of this approach Price said; 

“Yes if..." is the approach of a deal maker.  It points to what needs to be done to make the possible plausible. "No because..." is the language of a deal killer.  Creative people thrive on ‘Yes if...” 

Buzz added; “Walt liked this language.” It blended well with Walt's constantly urging his Imagineers to "plus it."

There is a direct parallel to "Yes if..." in Design Thinking; asking "What if?" and using "Yes, and..." rather than "Yes, but..." when brainstorming.

Fred Gleeck and Avish Parashar have a YouTube video that demonstrates the difference.

Improv Game - "Yes And" and "Yes But"

Before I viewed this video I had no idea that "Yes, if..." could be the basis for standup comedy. Gleeck and Avish's routine show how much more "Yes, but..." feels like an argument. An argument is probably not what you want to have during a brainstorm - or possibly any other time.

Placed on a continuum from No to Yes, it looks like this;

To end on a bit of a whacky note; this reminder from Monte Python of how much fun it is to have a really good argument!

Just remember, the next time a problem solving opportunity comes your way, work to get to the "Yes if..."side of things. It will go a long way towards developing a creative solution.

It worked for Walt.

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