Tag Archives: collaborative techniques

Yes And — The Power of Language

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 are a couple of videos that demonstrate this technique:

The Improv Yes-And Rule

The Yes-And Technique

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.

Advertisements

The Pause That Refreshes

When Maddie and I have workshop participants take our Collaborability assessment, we frequently ask them which collaboration aspect surprised them. The most frequent answer is Pausing to allow time for reflection.

Pausing is most important when you have an instant and negative reaction to a collaborator’s suggestion.

When I notice that I have a strong negative response toward an idea, it’s a sign to me to slow down and check out what’s really going on. More often than not, I find that my reaction has more to do with me than with the idea itself.

The pause allows you to develop awareness about your own areas of resistance or automatic response.  Once you’ve paused, you can ask yourself “How could this work?” or “How is that idea connected”? If you take the time to consider the merits or opportunities of an idea, it may lead to a solution that will work well.

Debbie

How to Write Your Book (or Next Book) Before You Retire

If you are here in Phoenix, I hope you’ll consider attending the National Speaker’s Association meeting on Saturday. Gwyn Nichols and I will be presenting on the success of me winning her services at a silent auction (see past posts Collaborating with an Expert and Life Transformations through Silent Auctions for details of how Maddie and I have worked with Gwyn)

Here’s the information about our part of the meeting:

At an NSA-Arizona Silent Auction, Debra bid on Gwyn’s donation of manuscript editing — about a week after she and her co-presenter Maddie Hunter first considered writing a book. That bold commitment and Gwyn’s consultant support moved them from thinking about a book to thoroughly researching and beginning it.

Learn how the three of them worked together to get this book moving fast. See how you can apply these perspectives and strategies to advance your own project.

Gwyn Nichols, a book editor and ghostwriter, recently founded Blue Monarch Press. Gwyn trained at an academic journal where she was known for translating articles written by PhDs into readable English. At the time, she suffered from such an incapacitating writing block of her own, she considered changing her major from English to chemistry. Eventually, Gwyn learned to write fluently any time, anywhere, and she went on to complete a master’s degree in English. She now writes poetry and fiction, and edits nonfiction, combining language expertise with healing encouragement as she works with authors or leads writing retreats.

Debra Exner helps her clients connect, communicate, and collaborate. She and her co-author, Maddie Hunter of New Jersey, first led a cancer support organization together, and then went on to research and teach effective collaboration. They lead workshops for corporations and associations, and are being invited to speak at international conferences.

In addition to speaking and training, Debra is a Professional Certified Coach and president of the Phoenix chapter of the International Coach Federation.

Come hear this outstanding program!
To register online visit http://nsa-arizona.org/meetings/mar-13/
or by email, send name, company and number of attendees to Gwen@nsa-arizona.org or call (480) 968-7443.


Register

NSA-Arizona Program March 13, 2010
Time: 9:00 a.m.; networking 8:00 a.m.
Business Building Session: 12:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Location: NSA Conference Center, 1500 S. Priest Dr., Tempe, AZ
Early Registration (by 5 p.m. Wed. Mar. 10): $30/members, $45/guests
Late Registration: $40/members, $55/guests
No refunds after 5 p.m. Mar. 10, 2010.
For directions, visit Mapquest.com
Please notify us if you have any special needs for the meeting.

Debbie

Pet Agility Sport

While exploring the attribute of agility, I discovered a another doggie sport! For fun, here are a few pet-inspired videos demonstrating successful (and not so successful) collaborations. Notice that each collaborator has a different motivation.

First the fabulous performance so that you understand the goal

But, as with collaborations,  it doesn’t always go that smoothly!

Dogs are initially trained with doggie treats but cats have a different motivation:

A fun toy and a willing owner! I have to go and try that on my kitties!

What motivates you?

If you’re hooked and want more of an explanation of the sport follow these links:

http://www.vidilife.com/video_play_13549_Dog_Agility.htm

Why We Love Cats and Dogs – Video: Cat Agility Show | Nature.

Debbie

Crowdsourcing at Netflix

The challenge: Create an algorithm that was 10% better than the one Netflix was currently using to recommend movies to subscribers and win $1,000,000!

The contest began on October 2, 2006 and was expected to take some time. It is a great example of crowdsourcing, or community-based design, which allows organizations to become more porous and tap talent outside of their organization.

“It’s been quite a drama,” said Neil Hunt, Netflix chief product officer. “At first, a whole lot of teams got in — and they got 6-percent improvement, 7-percent improvement, 8-percent improvement, and then it started slowing down, and we got into year two. There was this long period where they were barely making progress, and we were thinking, ‘maybe this will never be won.’

On September 21, 2009 Netflix awarded the $1M Grand Prize to the collaborative team “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos.” Tune in tomorrow to find out about the role of collaboration in this contest!

Debbie

Collaborating With an Expert

Here are some of the ways that Gwyn Nichols has helped with our book writing project.

by psd on flickr creative commons

Gwyn’s belief in us and excitement about our topic and kept us connected with our goal until we were able to set aside time to work on it more concretely.

She took our Collaborability assessment and created an online survey so that we could collect more data as well as demographic information. The survey included write-in comments about what participants would like to learn about collaboration and traits they thought were important for effective collaboration.

Gwyn facilitated our writer’s retreat in Chicago virtually. Together we planned our approach and she suggested multiple check-in calls. During those calls we talked about our progress, where we were stuck and our next steps. Gwyn typed up notes and emailed them to us.

The check-in calls kept us focused. Comments like “You guys have a dozen books to write. Which one do you want to start with?” helped us understand why things seemed like a jumble at times and to see a way to get clear.

One of our goals for the retreat was to start a blog. Maddie wrote the “Our Story” blog post and Gwyn edited it for us. She also commented on our blog posts and quoted them in her own blog. How encouraging!

Gwyn gave us tips on how to write when there’s no time. My favorite is the one about rewarding yourself which I wrote about in a previous post.

Who has served as a catalyst in your life or work? What have they done that has been helpful?

We Should Write a Book … Someday – Or… Life Transformation through Silent Auctions

Silent auctions have been the start of magical transformations in my life. It started with the Wilmington Women in Business Foundation Scholarship event – making higher education possible for women in Delaware returning to school.

photo by I am I.A.M.

My philosophy, formulated at that first auction, is to bid on everything remotely interesting during round one. Then I get more and more selective as the bidding – and price—goes up. [Caution: Consider the number of people attending the auction. If it is small you may end up with more opportunities than you can handle!]

I was clearly looking for more balance in my life that evening because I bid on and won a month of coaching, a life balance care basket, and a massage. I’d been intending to hire coach Wendy Mackowski but was just waiting to make time in my life for coaching – I’d probably still be waiting today but for that auction! All of my winnings were wonderful and the coaching ultimately started me on a whole new career.

At my first National Speakers Association (NSA) auction, I won time with three amazing speaker mentors, Ian Percy and Doug Stevenson, and Neil Dempster, who wasn’t even on the auction block. With his permission, I hastily drew up an auction form on the back of an already used piece of paper and this package ended up in down to the wire bidding between me and Jean McFarland! Neil generously capped the bidding before we could come to blows (just kidding) and created a package for each of us.

At my next NSA Silent Auction, I was ready to go! I bid on and won a photo head shot package from Tina Celle and mentoring from John Hersey because I admired the work of both, and Gwyn Nichols – Gwyn who? I’d actually never met nor heard of Gwyn before that afternoon (she was brand new to the organization) but she was offering editing and coaching for writing a book.

Just the previous week my colleague Maddie Hunter mused “We should write a book on collaboration some day.” Be careful what you say around me!

Ok, so this was a bit premature. We both already had lives full to overflowing. How would we ever fit in writing time? Well, sometimes I find it useful to create a circumstance that will push me to action (remember my bid on coaching)? Have you ever followed your instincts like that?

Gwyn is the catalyst for one of those transformations. How, you ask? First, her belief in us and in our project provided a boost to our own conviction and commitment. Have you ever experienced the confidence boost of someone else’s belief in your abilities?

This week we’ll post more about Gwyn’s structures and ideas and how they have helped us as well as other ideas on how to work collaboratively on a book. What has helped you to write your book? What would help you to write your next book?

Debbie