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

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