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“Yes, and …”

Yes, And

No … But … I don’t think so … Fuhgeddaboudit! These are words that can turn a brainstorm into a light drizzle in an instant. How many such sessions have you been in with the best of intentions, only to quickly find yourselves in a blankly-staring, navel-gazing, slack-jaw-a-thon, because your habits of communication are all about editing ideas before they ever see the light of day? There can be lots of reasons why you can’t agree on an idea or come to an agreed-upon decision. But don’t let saying “no” be one of them.

Learn From Improv: Yes, and…

Yes, and… is a mantra, long used by comedy improv groups to unleash their creative juices. The general rule is this. The first person in a group starts a conversation. It can be as straightforward or outrageous as he/she wants. The next person has to accept what the first person says at face value and build on it. In other words “Yes” is an agreeable response (no matter what the other person says) and “And” allows you to build on the original statement. For example: Person #1: (Holding his hands wide) Have you ever seen a hot dog this big? Person #2: Yes, and… it was made of chocolate. You can actually get it in a number of flavors. Person #1:Yes, and… They can also be used as a cushion for your day bed. Person #2: Yes, and… There are plenty of styles and colors you can choose from. Including a mustard yellow, of course.

Create A Free Flow of Information

Well, you get the idea. It’s a way to create a free flow of information. Without judgment. Without editing. Without borders. You start a conversation and just go with it. The above exchange was my lame attempt at humor, with more of a conversation than you might expect from a comedy troupe. But what we’re really talking about here is applying this concept to your business brainstorming sessions. In this video, we see a man and a woman demonstrate the process of “Yes, and…”

Here’s another video about the concept describing the “Yes, and…” philosophy as divergent versus convergent thinking.

Instead of taking one idea at a time and beating it to a pulp, improv your way to an avalanche of ideas. You never know where it will lead you. And once you feel you’ve exhausted the flow, THEN take some time to shed the non-starter ideas, thus revealing your gems. Yes, and… have fun while you’re doing it!

About The Author

John Parrish
John Parrish is Vice President, Creative Services for Marketing In Color and has worked on brands such as Outback Steakhouse, Madico Window Films, Pitney Bowes, Progressive Auto Insurance, Edwards (United Technologies), Kash n’ Karry Food Stores, Home Shopping Network, The Villages of Florida, CareCredit, Dollar Rent A Car, Super Kmart, and dozens more.
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