Get to Yes

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Guzman
  • 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron

The “Get to Yes” problem solving and negotiation technique has been around in business circles for decades. Books and articles have been published in regards to avoiding the rush to “No” by focusing on what it would take to “Get to Yes”. 

It is easy to confuse a “Get to Yes” approach with being a “Yes Man” or “Yes Woman” i.e. the type of leader or follower who simply agrees to go along with whatever is asked of them… But, when you take a hard look at what being a “Get to Yes” type of person means, nothing could be further from the truth.

Getting to yes requires the willingness to conduct detailed research, and to explicitly outline all of the required resources, risk and factors to be considered to organizational decision makers.  

It has been my experience that the typical “Yes Man/Woman” types tend to swiftly ignore the previously mentioned part of the equation, in most cases the “Yes Man/Woman” end up coming with a mediocre, at best, result due to a lack of research and effort with the assigned task.

Our willingness to use the get to yes method as our day-to-day motto when going about our daily business can be the difference between letting old problems linger, or making the impossible happen by focusing on a way ahead.  We can choose to focus on being stuck in the swamp, or we can devise a plan to get to the Promised Land…

As Air Force members we are often faced with roadblocks and “Red Tape” while working our way towards required goals and objectives.  At times it seems easier to take “No” for an answer and to simply re-vector our team in another direction, while complaining about the problem/obstacle at hand.  

Instead of the quick, easy to reach “No” we should aim for “Yes, if…” Yes, we can get X or Y accomplished by the required deadline if the following resources are made available, if the following higher headquarters instructions are waived and if the ultimate decision maker(s) is/are willing to assume X, Y or Z risk in order to accomplish the desired outcome.

There is simply no limit to what can we accomplish as an organization if we focus all of our energy and time on finding solutions and sparking progress, instead of simply highlighting problems for someone else to fix and settling for stagnation…

Getting to Yes does not require an off-the-chart IQ-level or some God given talent, it simply requires us to have a positive mindset when addressing a challenge and a strong enough work ethic to carry out the required research. It’s about attitude and work ethic, two characteristics that are both well within our control.

Our Air Force history is full of fine examples of leaders finding a way to yes, from the Wright brothers, to the Doolittle Raiders, to the development of stealth and the rapid growth of intelligence, surveillance and recognizance technology. Our previous success has depended on finding a way to yes and our future triumphs will surely be enabled by it.