Naysayers and Yea-sayers

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton talks to TACUP audience

Every organization has naysayers and yea-sayers. The number of their complaints or compliments can affect—and even determine—the perception of the in-plant.

At last fall’s TACUP (Texas Association of College and University Printers) conference, I used the term “naysayers” to express my frustration in trying to battle the politics of a tough consulting assignment. After that, I wondered what the opposite would be, and discovered the expression “yea-sayers.”

In thinking more about these two groups, some interesting questions emerged: Are the number of naysayers and yea-sayers important, and do they influence how much the in-plant is scrutinized? Does the ratio of critics to fans influence the perception of the in-plant or the ability to sell new products or services? How much of a role do these two camps play in the viability of the in-plant?

These questions grew out of my experiences during two projects. The first was an evaluation of multiple state-run in-plants. This reminded me, painfully, of the battles we fight with people of all different backgrounds who may or may not appreciate the benefits (or fully understand the costs) of in-house production vs. outsourcing. These are the “naysayers.”

The second project was done at the AARP in-plant in Washington, D.C. The AARP plant is growing because it has more yea-sayers than naysayers. Having fans is one reason some in-plants thrive while others struggle. Passionate fans are often more willing to try new products and services, such as online services or variable-data printing (VDP). And, as we will discuss later, succeeding with innovative products and services often results in a perception that the in-plant has more value than outside services.

Who are these naysayers and yea-sayers? According to urban–, naysayers are those “who frequently engage in excessive complaining, negative banter, and/or a genuinely poor and downbeat attitude. Naysayers are distinguished by their tendency to consistently view the glass half empty, make frequent one-way trips to negative town, and constantly emphasize the worst of a situation. They have the capacity to rant and whine for hours on end about the most insignificant inconveniences.”

Related story: Texas University In-plants Gather in Houston

Howie Fenton is the Vice President of Consulting Services for IMG. For 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance for enterprise and commercial printers. For more information, email

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