Innovations and Improvisations #BIF8

This is a reposting of an article written by BIF-8 blogger Andrea Meyer

Innovation and improvisation have a lot in common. Both are areas in which you work without a script to create something out of nothing. You work in teams to co-create solutions, incorporating suggestions from the audience (customers).

One of the tenets of improvisation is the “Yes and” rule. That is, when someone makes a suggestion, your role is to agree and addto it — not to argue “yes but…” which deflates the whole idea. The goal of “Yes and” is to build on each others’ input. Tom Yorton, president of Second City Communications (a division of the Second City comedy theater company that gave birth to comedians like Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert) explains: “Whatever you say, I affirm and build on that. You can create interesting scenes and characters that way. You can also create an entire business model.”

Second City now helps companies be more innovative in their thinking, using those improv skills. As Yorton sees it, many business people spend so much of their day thinking critically that they’re much more comfortable with “yes but” rather than “yes and.”

Yorton will be speaking at the Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation Summit, September 19-20, 2012 in Providence, RI.

Other resources on the topic of innovation and improvisation include:

  • “Collaborative innovation involves the genius of the “and” versus the tyranny of the “or.” …In good brainstorming, one feeds off the other and the end result is significantly more powerful than either approach alone.” – Harvard Business Review

Andrea Meyer founded Working Knowledge® in 1988 to provide custom research and writing services. She has written/contributed to 28 books, 450 case studies and company profiles, 73 conference reports, 32 best practices reports, 18 industry studies, four white papers, two training manuals and countless articles.>

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