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Yes And

March 15, 2010

About seven years ago, I took an improv acting course at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus that was taught by a troupe called Just the Funny. At the time, they were performing at the Miami Science Museum, and my husband and I had been to their shows a few times. The teacher in me was drawn to the ability to command an audience and actually entertain them in the process. The writer in me was drawn to collaboratively creating a story in the moment based on just a few small pieces of input.

I ended up loving improv, and one of my biggest takeaways from the class was the concept of “Yes And.”

I was reminded of Yes And today when I sat in the back room of Just the Funny’s theater on Coral Way and ran through plans for the MBA at FIU Be the Boss Challenge event (add)ventures is collaborating with them on beginning this Friday. On the wall behind one of the actors was a giant poster with little else than those words: “Yes And.”

Yes And is a way of working together, of collaboratively moving forward without a script. It means never saying “but” or answering a question “no.” It means turning roadblocks into building blocks because the audience is eagerly awaiting your next move.

I first experienced Yes And during an exercise with an improv partner I’d never worked with. I can’t recall the scene we were working on, but I recall the focus I had on always finding a way to make it work, to keep moving to the next idea. Tonight as we were thinking aloud together about how to refine our ideas into clear direction that will come to life in just a few days, I realized, sitting with the two actors who had taught me the concept, just how much Yes And is a part of my work every day.

Yes And is put to the test in brainstorming sessions, where ideas need nourishment to grow into solutions. By validating colleagues’ approaches and input, and by adding ideas rather than interjecting barriers, Yes And allows new ways of thinking to rise to the surface.

The Devil’s Advocate is Yes And’s worst enemy. There’s often someone in the meeting who has taken on this self-appointed role. Their negative reactions, however practical, never fail to stifle creativity. Training Devil’s Advocates to turn their “But What About” questions into Yes And proposals can open the door to efficiency and creativity as never before.

Yes And fosters the freedom of possibility. It allows impracticalities to fall by the wayside and leaves us with strong concepts built on the foundation of all of our ideas working together.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2010 10:13 pm

    This is actually a really good idea. I like it when you get cross polination on ideas.

    I’m running a few brainstorming sessions in the next few weeks and I’m going to use this.

    • Angie Henderson Moncada permalink
      March 15, 2010 11:04 pm

      Thanks! Would love to hear how it goes.

  2. March 17, 2010 11:48 pm

    There was a session at SXSW centered around this Improv concept! It’s purpose was to teach freelancers how to get the clients they want and make the big bucks. Very cool.

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