Why subscribe?

I’ve written tens of thousands of words on the topic of momentum thinking, the formal term for what I enjoy calling the two-but rule. I also write something called product reviews from the near future.

Now it’s time to share the work.

I’ll be posting a lot of stories and cases publicly, but:

Subscribers will get access to exclusive cases, and paid subscribers will get, in addition to my lasting gratitude, special opportunities to explore new cases together.

Why You Need Two Buts Right Now

Comedian John Cleese said that if you want to achieve creativity in any endeavor, you must employ humor. 

Hard times are coming. We’re going to need to keep our sense of humor.

In hard times, the easiest way to turn people from the open mode of creative problem solving to the closed mode of slogging unproductively through insurmountable problems is to tell them to stay positive.

But there is a different approach, one in which embracing the negative and then iterating to the positive allows executives, scientists and other discerning, skeptical minds to say these powerful words: 

“But that won’t work, because… But it would if…” 

Or as I like to say – because my kids think it’s hilarious – “Always bring two buts to any problem.”

This is the two-but rule, an argument against a no-but policy that’s emblematic of today’s rising culture of toxic positivity, where every idea is a good one, and the safest choice is avoiding conflict and possible censure by embracing the inertia of passive affirmation: “That’s a great idea, Joe. Now, moving on to our next topic.”

This publication draws on nearly forty years of creative problem solving in business and technology and gives the stage to the most powerful tool I’ve ever used in a career focused on innovation – one that has changed my life. Perhaps it will change more lives and help solve some of the big problems facing humanity.

With that, let me introduce you to the innovation asset that I always keep close by: My But.

About Me

John Wolpert looking serious, wearing a fancy suit but trying to keep it real sans tie.

Hi, I’m John Wolpert, and I’ve been trekking through the wilderness of product and behavioral innovation for three decades. I co-founded a few startups, started a non-profit government-backed research consortium, and worked for a ton of companies (including IBM…three times) on emerging technology projects ranging from the early internet and life science to AI and blockchains.

I’ve lived through all the buzzwords, coined a few, and learned to laugh at most of it.

Early in my career, a colleague at an innovation consultancy I worked for said something that changed my life:

Always but-the-but:
If you’re going to say, ‘But that doesn’t work,’ try to add ‘But it would work if.’”

That phrase has led to more innovative thinking and more unexpected opportunities than anything else I can point to in my life. And that’s why the name of this publication is the Two But Rule.

So, with that, as they say on YouTube, if you like this topic and want to join our community, please like and subscribe. :)

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John Wolpert's hilariously serious stories, cases and tips for success in managing teams, solving problems, and designing innovative products. Subscribers get weekly content from The Two But Rule, Product Reviews from the Near Future and more.


John Wolpert

John Wolpert writes about innovation, emerging technology and product development. Preorder the new book, "The Two But Rule: Turn Negative Thinking Into Positive Solutions" wherever you buy books.