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Exercising Your But
Issue 24 of The Two But Rule
After walking through just a few short runs of Momentum Thinking, you can see that it doesn’t take much to find yourself up to your neck in buts. It’s no wonder that we see so few cases of using the two-but rule in the media, during meetings, or in the halls of government. There just isn’t enough room, not enough time, and not enough patience. Even stories here on 2Buts.com often leave some buts on the cutting room floor to keep the read time to a level that won’t frighten off subscribers.
That said, applying the two-but rule can be fast, as we saw with the Apollo 13 story. It can lead to fewer mistakes that would otherwise cost time later on. And it’s worth noting that there is a lot less friction involved in exploring issues when people know they can expect a second-but after someone points out a problem with an idea.
Nevertheless, running four or five rounds of the 2Buts game can be exhausting mentally…especially for a team. And if you need to discuss or write down all the “but that won’t work, but it would if…but that also won’t work, but it would ifs,” you’re going to run out of room fast. We’re going to need some help exercising our buts. We need some tools and techniques.
The simplest thing needed to help build a habit of applying the two-but rule is also the hardest to achieve. Pervasive general understanding. When you say, “Hey, I’d like to tell you some problems I see with your idea,” you need your colleague to say, “Oh! Cool, let’s do some Momentum Thinking on that.”
But, well…that’s just super boring. There’s a reason it’s called “The Two But Rule” and not “The Practice And Application Of Momentum Thinking For Problem Solving and Innovation.” It’s just more fun if your colleague said, “Ok then, show me your buts.” At least it’s harder to forget. So spread the word! #2Buts
Shifting Your But
When it comes to applying the two-but rule in meetings, there is a time factor. Same goes for journalism, reports, or anything with limited space. Ever notice that even the best of political on-camera interviewers let politicians get away with hardly a single pair of buts?
“But Senator, some say your proposal is too expensive.”
“Yes, Barbara, they say that, but it’s not too expensive.”
“Oh! Ok then, next question.”
BUT, in a 2Buts world, we can learn to shift our buts in time and space. There is no reason every article can’t come with a link to an expanded page full of buts. It’s a trivial matter today to make such pages interactive. In fact, the comments section of any article that allows them can be rigged to prompt for two-buts: “We really want to hear your thoughts, but extra points if you apply the two-but rule.”
Also, in a 2Buts world, there should be people standing by to help you handle your but. Getting ready to do a brainstorming session? An innovation or design workshop? A planning meeting? Make sure to upgrade it to one equipped with the two-but rule. Maybe soon you’ll be able to find practitioners, coaches and other two-but rule resources on 2buts.com. ;)
Lastly, you can shift a lot of buts into breakout sessions, as we saw with the story about the drunken science interns.
And yet, for all this, The Two But Rule would be little more than an amusing set of anecdotes and thought experiments were it not for the explosion of practical Artificial Intelligence in 2023. Suddenly, we have the ultimate Momentum Thinking machine.
It’s difficult, working on your own, to clearly see your but – let alone to embrace both sides of it. And getting someone else to help can be too intimate, and possibly inappropriate, even for the closest of colleagues.
But now you have a friend that can help. One that will never judge you for what might be up your but. At least I don’t think so. And it can really help with organizing all the forks involved in exploring complex chains and sets of buts.
Meet your new two-but buddy: ChatGPT.
When you’re stumped or stuck searching for buts, particularly the all-important second-but, ChatGPT can be strangely helpful in getting into the flow and turbocharging the process. It’s like an after-burner for momentum thinking. It sure helped me with the story on the Debt Ceiling.
ChatGPT doesn’t know everything, and it tends to make things up, but it’s definitely there to get you thinking.
It’s my daughter’s birthday this weekend, so keeping this piece short and sweet. There’s a lot more to be said about using AI and other tools and techniques in applying the two-but rule to everyday life.
In other news, I’m working hard in June and July to meet the publisher’s manuscript deadline. I got lucky. They assigned an amazing editor—funny and insightful—who is helping craft this book into one you will only be able to put down to wipe off the milk shooting out your nose as you laugh uncontrollably while learning life-altering things about your but. (Hmmm…wonder what they would think about this last sentence. Bit long, right?) :)
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