A key tool in improvisation is the “Yes And” technique. The “Yes And” technique means to agree with your partner and add something to the conversation when used in improvisation. Watch improvisational performers perform and rarely if ever will you see them use the word “no”. The reason being once the word “No” is used it kills the creative process. If I am acting in a skit and my partner says no there is no place for the scene to go. The action is halted along with the story.
Companies need to ask themselves do they breed a “Yes And” culture or a “No But” culture. Companies that clamor to be creative will never allow the seeds to be planted if the culture does not provide a supportive creative environment. Having a “Yes And” culture lays the foundation to spontaneity, improvisation and fresh thinking which add incredible value to a company’s morale, retention rates and the bottom line.
Last summer I spoke in Columbus, Ohio to a group at the Columbus Zoo and after my presentation a gentleman came up to me and said he liked my presentation and the “Yes And” technique. He went on to say he would love to use this technique at work but his company would not allow it. He said the current culture is a “No but” culture and doesn’t encourage new ideas, risk taking or innovation. So he asked me how can he be creative when the culture he works in does not allow creative seeds to be planted?
I have to be honest I have struggled with this question for months. It comes down to a slogan which is “be the change you want to make happen”. Let me expound on this… Individuals are drawn to people who are creative, its human nature. Creative minds are the one’s who come up with new ideas, processes, procedures and idea generation. These are the leaders you and I want to be around.
Over the next week I would challenge you to observe your co-workers and see if they are “Yes And” people or “No But” people. Remembering that no one says yes or no all the time but what is their natural recourse? Do they allow issues, ideas and thoughts to be put on the white board? Or are they just shot down from the start.
Next, after you observe your co-workers for a week consciously use the “Yes And” technique and see if the culture changes in any shape or manner. I would contend you using this technique will not only change you it will alter the dynamics of your office. When creative energy is unlocked it will affects all people in its path.
I am sure when using this technique at the office you will run into major resistance, frustration and challenges. However, your reward may not pay off immediately but you will slowly become an agent for change. In addition, your attitude and experience at work should shift and allow you to operate in a more creative space. Bringing creativity to the workplace is needed and you being the change you want to see is where it can start.