The No Buts tool


  • This is a very simple and playful way to encourage creativity within team discussions and collaborative working.
  • It may also contribute to the levelling process that reduces team hierarchy and creates a more positive team spirit

Why It is Needed

  • In our workshops we noted that some individuals are in the habit of introducing a strongly negative critique.
  • This can have a surprisingly big impact on the creative potential of a team, especially when it is small.
  • This is because, social groups do not work in a summative way. They are relational:
    • In a team of 8 - each person is responsible for at least 25% of all team relations.
    • In a team of 4 - each person is responsible for at least 50% of all team relations.
    • In a team of 3 - each person is responsible for at least 66.66% of all team relations.
    • In a team of 2 - each person is responsible for 100% of all team relations.

How It Works

  • After some protracted difficulties with one particular person we banned the use of the word 'but' in our team discussions.
  • This was based on the observation that decision-making procedures may be over-influenced by questions of truth.
  • While this process may lead to eventual decisions and practical outcomes reached, this can take too many stages.


    • Person A makes a statement.
    • Person B disagrees
    • Person A feels challenged and asks why s/he disagrees
    • Person B explains what s/he doesn't like about the original statement
    • Person A defends the original statement
    • Person B disagreement continues until person A accepts the rebuttal and
      • modifies his/her position.
    • Person A understands and revises the statement etc.


    • Person B now understands the original point but offers a new proposal
    • Person B now begins to grasp some of the original point
    • Person A
    • Person B
    • Person A
    • Person B

See the Workshop Methods