Yes And is a technique that is taught in improvisational acting and in communications courses.
In improv, an actor begins supplying some bit of information that helps to create the scene. They may say to another actor “Looks like we’re in for a bad storm.” This is called an offer and the other actor’s job is to accept the offer and support their scene partner. They might say “Yes and I hope that the road doesn’t flood.” The opposite of accepting the offer is blocking, for example, contradicting the offer, which stops the flow of the scene.
Here is a video that demonstrate this technique:
The Improv Yes-And Rule
Yes And as a communication technique is meant to raise awareness of when we are dismissive of the ideas of other people. For example, Chris says “We could hire a virtual assistant to handle all the routine work that is using up all of our time.” Lee says “Yes but we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.”
The “but” in that reply can feel like a rejection of the original idea. Can’t you just hear Chris say “You’re always so negative. How are we ever going to get out from under if we don’t do anything?”
If Lee said “Yes and we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.” The conversation might continue in a similar vein. “Yes and we could start the VA in stages to break up the time drain.” Or even “Yes and we’d want to think of a way to minimize the disruption.”
Use the “Yes And” method to acknowledge and accept another’s suggestion and build on it.
Posted in collaboration, communication, porous
Tagged accepting the offer, acknowledge, awareness, brainstorming, collaborative techniques, communication, creativity, Debbie Exner, fun, habits, improvization, innovation, Maddie Hunter, pattern break, porous, support, Yes And
Yesterday I wrote about the Netflix prize — $1,000,000 awarded to the team BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos for creating an algorithm that was 10.06% better at recommending movies that customers would like.
Improvements came quickly and then bogged down. Here are the highlights:
- 2007 $50,000 progress prize — BellKor with an 8.43% improvement
- 2008 $50,000 progress prize — BellKor in BigChaos with a 9.44% improvement. This team was a combination of the two front runners BellKor and Big Chaos
- 2009 $1,000,000 grand prize — BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos at 10.06%. This team was a combination of BelKor in Big Chaos and Pragmatic Theory. Another collaborative team, the Ensemble (a merger of the Grand Prize Team and Opera Solutions and Valdelay United), tied but their final submission was submitted 20 minutes later.
“This has been one of the wonderful discoveries in the competition, that blending teams can lead to substantial gains…” said Chris Volinsky, a scientist at AT&T Research and a member of BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos Team. Blending different technical skills (statistical and machine-learning techniques) “only works well if you combine models that approach the problem differently. That’s why collaboration has been so effective, because different people approach problems differently.”
Some of the factors that affected predictions were:
- people rate movies they saw a long time ago differently than the ones they saw recently
- movie watchers tend to rate movies differently on Fridays versus Mondays
- a rating given on a Monday is a poor indicator of other movies the viewer will like
Other companies are also using crowdsourcing to solve real problems. Check out these websites to see some of the opportunities offered through these clearinghouse sites:
What problem would you like to solve by offering a prize?
Posted in business, collaboration, porous
Tagged $1 million, AT&T Research, BellKor, BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, Big Chaos, brainstorming, collaboration, crowdsourcing, different perspectives, innovation, Netflix, porous, Pragmatic Theory, prize, The Ensemble
Be forewarned! If you go out to dinner with me on a day when I didn’t get to write, you may be pressed into collaborative service. Such was the fate of my husband and friends last night.
by Angela Rutherford on flickr creative commons
Writing – blog posts and book pages – is my top priority from now until March and I am applying reward incentives to keep myself focused. One of those is “No wine until I write two!” The two is two blog posts (to stay ahead of the game), two pages (on the book) or two genuine hours of writing (even if it doesn’t yield a finished product).
Yesterday got away from me before I could write my quota. With me at dinner were my husband George, and friends Mike and Diane. We’d already ordered the wine so I had to act quickly. I asked, “Can someone give me two examples of how collaboration worked for you this week?” Both Mike and Diane came up with an answer. I’ll save Diane’s collaboration example for another day.
Mike talked about finding a problem with the way a customer’s data was showing up on reports that his company produces. He got his team together to solve the issue, considering whether the data was coming in incorrectly, what happened to the data next, finding the source of the problem, deciding if it applied to other customers and estimating the cost of fixing it. The point of the story was that the team collaboration helped to resolve the issue quickly.
Much to Mike’s dismay, Diane and George started asking him a whole lot of questions, attempting to collaboratively solve the issue all over again! My glass of wine was perched at my place-setting waiting for me to take my first sip so I asked Mike if he needed any help and he said “No everything is being handled.” Yahoo!
The moral is: If you’re out to dinner with me and supply an example be sure to start by stating what help, if any, you need. Hmmm…that’s a tip that might work in other situations too.
How do you motivate yourself to stay focused on your priorities?
Shackleton was not impressed by our ideas
I have a lot of experience with collaborating long distance and find that it works quite well. For example, yesterday I met by phone with Maddie Hunter, who lives in NJ, and Gwyn Nichols who is here in AZ. We talked for about an hour or so, brainstorming and planning a presentation that we will give in a few months.
Then, we divided up some assignments and hung up to write individually for a half-hour. We emailed our drafts and got back on the phone to discuss and edit and plan next steps. It was productive and fun, and together we came up with ideas that would not have occurred to us individually.
We’ve used google docs (docs.google.com)to brainstorm by writing ideas simultaneously in a spreadsheet and to store documents that we both need to access. Now we’re trying a collaborative online project management software program that Gwyn introduced us to – viewpath.net. Has anyone ever tried it?
What tools do you use to collaborate long distance?
Photo by mil8 from creative commons of flikr.com
I was conducting our Maximize Your Performance through Collaboration workshop and mentioned that an over-expressed strength can also be a challenge. As an example, I used my strength of taking responsibility for things (sometimes everything!!!). While it is truly a strength, when over-employed, it can inhibit the contributions of others.
One of the participants was nodding his head and shared this story. “I learned an important lesson early on in my Navy career. I was feeling pretty good about a brainstorming session I’d just had with my staff.”
“My superior said ‘Congratulations! You just did a great job collaborating…with yourself!’ He was right. Most of the ideas that we generated came from me. I never forgot that lesson.”
Do you have a strength that gets in the way of collaborating?
One of my favorite collaboration tools is brainstorming. Now don’t go thinking that this is some antiquated, over-the-hill technique. Coined back in the 1950’s brainstorming has stayed the course as a key contributor to the creative process. Here’s the trick though when it comes to enhancing your collaborations.
Step 1 - Think solo
Current research (http://www.cpsb.com/research/articles/creative-problem-solving/Reexamination-of-Brainstorming-Research.pdf) suggests that having some solo time to consider a topic for brainstorming before joining a group to collaborate will result in a more divergent set of ideas. For example, if your job requires that you come up with a new way to cut costs, starting a list of things that are top-of-mind will prime your idea-generating machine. Then to ensure you don’t get tapped out too readily or rely too much on vanilla-type notions, join with others to enhance your list.
Step 2 - Find collaborators
Asking a colleague to add ideas is a start but you can also do something like a popular beverage company did when it featured an opportunity for visitors to its Facebook page to brainstorm ideas for its’ next energy drink. Think first and then go find collaborators – that’s a formula for a successful collaboration.