Vince Morvillo: Eliminating the can’t culture Featured

8:01pm EDT May 31, 2011
Vince Morvillo: Eliminating the can’t culture

It wasn’t too long ago that we had to eliminate the use of offensive language from the workplace, bringing an end to the old way of doing business. But we missed a certain four-letter word when we cleaned up our office talk. Can't is just as vile to the business environment as any other four-letter word. It facilitates resistance against change and hurts our ability to receive the gift that change brings – the opportunity to reevaluate and improve our business models. 

Training teams to get past can't allows businesses to respond quickly to the ever-changing markets in which we operate. 

The first step is to create a culture that embraces change. When faced with a challenge, the tendency is to first focus on what can’t be done when we should instead be seeing what is possible. Change is a chance to take a deeper look at your business, your customers and your environment to make sure the business model meets the needs of your target market.

For example, when Hurricane Ike and the recession dealt a double blow to my Houston-based yacht sales company, we updated our sales strategy. We created customer support programming that put us ahead of our competitors, who had little success with hurricane clearance sales in a devastated community. 

Change provides the opportunity to make competitive gains by being the first to create new approaches and develop innovative solutions. Today’s most successful organizations are driven by people who understand the value of change and thrive off of it, instead of responding to it with can’t.

In order to overcome the destructive can’t attitude, you must challenge it. Can't holds us back because it focuses us on all of the problems instead of the solutions, which prevents creative thinking. Being blind since birth, I’ve heard this word a lot in my life. Whenever I was told I couldn't do something, I learned to ask, “Why not?” In doing so, I eventually found that I could succeed if I stripped away the menacing roadblock of can’t.

This approach has proven effective for solving problems in both business and personal pursuits. Every time employees or team members say “can’t,” respond with “why not?” Plow the path to creative and innovative solutions by throwing out objections and turning the focus to how.

Most importantly, eliminate the distraction of can’t by implementing a creative thought process and motivating your team to understand and believe that all things are possible. This is done by facilitating discussions and challenging your team to tear down convention and remove preconceived thoughts to enable fresh, creative ideas to flow. 

When evaluating the current business model, ask your team to define the problems and come up with potential solutions. Challenge each team member to write five answers on sticky notes and place them all on a board. Then do it again. After a few iterations, all preconceived solutions are on the table and you can move to new creative ground. The result will be a new business model backed by the synergy and fresh thinking that has emerged within the group.

When you eliminate the negativity of can’t among your team, you set the stage for a brighter, more productive future for your organization.

Vince Morvillo is founder of Sea Lake Yacht Sales and an entrepreneur and motivational speaker based in Houston. He was the first blind person in history to win a national sailing championship. To contact Vince, visit