Lora Baiocco,  Online Services and Archives librarian at the Westmount Public Library in Westmount, Quebec talked with me at OLA 2011 Superconference about our common interest in getting some of our professional colleagues to recognize that “critical thinking” isn’t about “being critical” — it’s about seeing possibilities, recognizing our built-in biases, replacing “but” with “and”, AND, as Lora told me — just saying YES, through a technique she learned from Bugs Bunny.  Talk about “seeing possibilities” — that was Bugs, right?

Ok, so Lora didn’t learn the technique from Bugs; she learned it from his creator, Chuck Jones, in his autobiography, Chuck Amuck

Thanks, Lora, for letting me re-post your insights & instructions (we all need instructions to apply the insights, at least the first time round!)

Creating Bugs….

Because this was not a brainstorming session in the usual sense, it was a “yes” session, not an “anything goes” session. Anything went, but only if it was positive, supportive, and affirmative to the premise. No negatives were allowed…. The “yes” session imposes only one discipline: the abolition of the word “no”.
…if you find you cannot contribute, then silence is proper, but it is surprising how meaty a little old stringy “yes” (which is another name for a premise) can become in as little as fifteen or twenty minutes, when everyone present unreservedly commits his immediate impulsive and positive response to it…A good premise always generates the most astonishing results.

Jones, Chuck. Chuck Amuck: The life and times of an animated cartoonist. New York: Chuck Jones Enterprises, inc. , 1989. pp 150 – 152.

We may not be making cartoons, but we are always telling, sharing, exchanging, and facilitating the movement of stories. Our work is creative.

I’m certainly not the first librarian to praise the positive – Pamela MacKellar in her presentation “Obstacle or Opportunity – It’s your choice” at CIL2009 enlightened us with a recognition of how negativity has a way of trickling and seeping into places you might not expect.

I ran a “Yes” session. We had good ideas floating around and I wanted to see what would bubble up – some are currently getting done. Here are a few tips for running your own session – tweak and tune to fit your organization.

10 Tips to a successful “Yes” session

1. Explain the rule of engagement. This is a “no”-free zone.
2. Check your egos and alliances at the door. This is about ideas and goals – go there.
3. Add to ideas in positive ways. If you can’t, zip it. (You may be shocked at how aware you become of your own thought process.)
4. Question each other in positive ways. Draw out the process, not the pitfalls.
5. Assign a moderator – their job will be to map ideas visually throughout the process and suggest other forums for negative statements.
6. Remember that this is not a full-on planning meeting. This is about bringing ideas to life and involving everyone in the process.
7. Be prepared to change your mind. You may find yourself excited about an idea you had previously dismissed.
8. If your idea gained a lot of momentum, leave the meeting and start. You know now who is excited, who is willing to help, and the broad strokes of how your idea can meet your customers.
9. If it wasn’t your idea – offer support through participation. If the idea ran a positive course, you should know your role in achieving the goal.
10. Pick a date for your next session.

Try it — let Lora & I know how the session goes, and what you learn so that we can spread the word, and keep the profession progressing by keeping our “buts” out of the way and saying “yes” to possibilities.