Tap into the power of "Yes, And"

Just recently I had the good fortune to spend time with one of our Creative Facilitators. Kate reminded me of the power of "Yes, And" and I was inspired to share that wisdom with all of you.

"Yes, And" is a fundamental technique for improv actors. One person offers an idea and the other must accept and play off of the idea to create a funny scenario. Guess what it doesn't leave room for? Judgment!

In a business setting, this technique serves to suppress the people who say things like, "This will never work" or "We've done that before."

As a facilitator, you know that when there is judgment in your session, creativity is stifled and the list is a lot shorter.

Call on these techniques the next time judgment is messing with your facilitation mojo:

  1. When a resource group inadvertently invites judgment or discussion by offering their ideas beginning with questions like, "Do you think we could?" Try responding with, "Assume the answer is yes, and turn it into an idea for me." Then add the idea offered to the list.

  2. If judgment persists, consider playing the "Yes, And" game. Put people in pairs and teach the group how to play by giving an example like this:  

  • Partner A begins with a premise. For example, "I brought you this apple."

  • Partner B responds with, "Yes, and I see that it came from under the tree where we met."

  • Partner A: "Yes, and after we met I dyed my hair purple."

  • Partner B: "Yes, and it was the purple hair that got the attention of the cab driver on the corner of 5th Avenue right by the bus stop."

  • The partners continue to agree on what was said by the previous person and take turns building on it. The more wild and outrageous, the better.

  • Let it go for a few rounds and ask the group what they noticed about freewheeling and building on an idea.

Take a quick look at the origins of the technique Yes, And: Lessons from Second City

Coach K is standing by with more tips on how to help resource groups make a longer list of ideas!