Ideas Grow When Somebody says “Yes, And.”
Contribution by Andy Eninger from The Second City Communications
‘Yes’ is the practice of being willing to try out an idea.
‘And’ is the art of building on an idea to discover its possibility.
To say “Yes, And” means that you are willing to acknowledge an idea, to try it out, to wholeheartedly consider where it might go. There is no room for judgment or doubt; those are reserved for later when it’s time to edit. With “Yes, And,” you listen for possibility first.
How to say ‘Yes And’ when somebody brings you an idea.
Ask questions to fully understand their idea, their intentions, and what excites them about their idea.
Set aside your doubt. Do your best to understand the idea, but it’s OK if the idea is still a little vague. Some of the best ideas start off as formless hunches.
You don’t even need to love the idea – but try loving it for a little while.
Build on the idea with collaborative conversations. Treat it like something you’re proud of. Ask other people what ideas it gives them.
Take the idea one direction. Go back to the seed of the idea and take it another direction. Take it many directions.
Create an abundance of options with that idea.
Sometimes, a mediocre idea can grow into something extraordinary with the power of “Yes, And.” Sadly, the best idea in the world would go nowhere unless somebody is willing to say “Yes, And” The truly great ideas don’t seem truly great the first time somebody says them out loud; they just seem strange and different. It just takes one person to say “Yes, And.”
Watch out for No:
Watch out for “No” or “Yes, but.” These are important later on, but they can stop the idea process if introduced too early. If you tell me “No” before I can fully articulate my idea, I will simply stop bringing ideas to you.
“Yes, but” can feel like a fancy way to say “No,” especially if the “Yes” is dismissive.
If I always know my ideas are heard and given time to grow, then I will continue to bring my ideas to you. Some will be good. Some will be great. Some will be not-so-great. Everybody loves to jump on a great idea, but it’s the way you treat the not-so-great ideas that defines your innovation process.
So, the next time you feel the urge to say “no” to an idea, practice using “Yes, And.” Acknowledge the idea and then build on it to see where it might go. The best part about “Yes, And” – the more you use it, the more people around you are likely to say “Yes, And” to your next idea.