By Claire Billingsley
In the world of improv, we have a term that we call “Yes, And…”
This term is the cornerstone of all improvisational comedy, as it is taught to anyone in their first class of improv.
The term “Yes, And” means that you agree (or accept) what your partner has given you, and then you add just a little bit more to help the scene move forward.
I see this being a great addition to a brainstorming and/or a problem solving session. Wouldn’t it be great to actually conduct a brainstorming session rather than a barnstorming session? If you just rolled your eyes, you know exactly what I mean!
Have you ever noticed at work many times you hear, “No, But” rather than “Yes, And”? It is not anyone’s fault; it is the reptilian response in our brain.
According to Dave Gunby, what the reptilian response in our brain tells us is – if it is not food, or it is not a mate, then it is an enemy, and we should kill it. So, our natural instincts make us skeptical of new information.
So, how as a leader can you break through that and make your brainstorming session more productive?
First, you determine that this is a zone where anything and everything will be considered. No sacred cows. I would also recommend that there not be any senior management in this session
… at least at first, because the underlings will most always defer to the senior manager’s ideas.
And that isn’t the object of the exercise. If that was the case, why would you gather at this meeting in the first place? You could do that from your office and send out an email!
So, the idea is to get everyone excited about being creative, and learning how to listen , accept , and respectfully acknowledge each other’s’ ideas. By the way, there is also a difference between “Yes, And “and Yes, But”. “Yes, But” is just like saying “No, But”… but nicer. You are still trying to control the conversation, or tell the person, yeah, thanks for trying, but I have a better idea.
You may need to practice the idea of “Yes, And” with your team before you get started with the brainstorming, as this may be new to their experience. You can do this through a “warm up” of storytelling using the “Yes, And” technique. Start with a neutral statement, such as “Today is a beautiful day.” Then, the next person says “Yes, and since it is a beautiful day, I took the top down on my car. Then the next person might say, “Yes, and because you took the top down on your car, your hair got stuck on your lip gloss … .and so on. The idea is to get everyone to accept what the previous person has said, and add one more piece of information to it. At the end of the story, everyone will have had a chance to be heard, validated, and be a contributor to something that had never been created before. That can be your springboard into explaining how “Yes, And” will enhance the brainstorming session.
Claire Billingsley is a professional speaker, published author, and edutrainer. She has been seen on CBS Channel 11 and recognized as one of the Top 25 Women to Watch by the Dallas Business Journal. You can reach Claire at 214.289.8802 , at www.billingsleyconsultinggroup.com, or at email@example.com.