Improvisation as a business strategy has gained more and more traction over the years. The improv theaters in every major city offer consulting and team building exercises. The last two conferences I attended began with an improv session.

The best idea we can borrow from the improvisation world is the concept of “YES, AND.” From “Bossypants” by Tina Fey:

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?

Spending your time disagreeing is often a slow, frustrating path to indecision. Even if your goal is to get to a different place than your colleague is currently occupying, it’s likely faster to get there together. This does not mean suppressing your ideas:

To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.

YES, AND is a powerful way to work together. You will come to a discussion with your own ideas. Make statements, but don’t let your ideas drown out the ideas of those around you.

Listen, consider, adjust. Together.

Published on the Harvest blog.

Apr 24, 2012    Subscribe · Email Me · Twitter · GitHub