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 as a team. 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.