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
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.
Posted in collaboration, porous
Tagged awareness, Collaborability assessment, collaboration, collaborative aspect, collaborative techniques, competency, Debbie Exner, Debra Exner, ideas, learning, Maddie Hunter, open space, Pause, porous, reflection
Do you ever procrastinate on things that you really want to accomplish? I see that everyone has raised their hand, including me.
Procrastination flow chart by scubaham
For the next few days, I’ll explore four ways that you can use collaboration to chase away procrastination.
One of my clients wanted to create a safety and rescue class and knew that he could do it on his own — someday. He asked a colleague to work with him. Together they created a class that was better than either of them would have created on their own, got it done more quickly, and had more fun!
It’s sad but true that most of us honor our commitments to others more than we do our commitments to ourselves. There is something about not wanting to let others down that is a powerful motivator. Plus, it’s just more fun to feel that you are not alone and that someone else is working with you. Just last night I co-facilitated a fun workshop which came together easily and better by working with my colleague Ben Wood-Isenberg.
Working together on a joint project can help it get done well before the deadline because you have to schedule the time in your respective calendars. This is what we usually think about when we talk about collaboration and it’s not the only way. Check back tomorrow for a second method.
When a person says something “changed my life” it gets my attention. I was at a professional meeting and the woman speaking was talking about something called mPWR10
mPWR10 is a 10-minute-per-day tool created by Nancy Donahue and Michelle Chung that teaches six habits distilled from the research on positive and peak performance psychology. After testing the product and finding it very valuable, we were very curious about how they collaborated on its creation. We set up a phone interview to explore what the keys were to their collaboration. Over the next three blog posts, we will report on the 10 practices Nancy and Michelle cited as keys to their collaboration.
- Keep track of the passion that brought you together
At the beginning of their collaboration, both women were employees of another firm. When that firm experienced manufacturing difficulties and eventually collapsed, it would have been easy to seek employment elsewhere. Start-up cash-flow challenges could have led them to drop their collaboration, but Nancy and Michelle calmed their uneasiness by hunkering down and focusing on the reason for their collaboration – a passion for supporting people’s success. They launched mPWR10.
- Know your value proposition
Michelle and Nancy are both expert synthesizers of information. Their capacity to glean the most important threads from the science of positive and peak performance psychology allowed them to create a simplified, accessible and practical set of habits. From the reactions of others, they learned that this talent was critical to the value they could create. A client told them that with mPWR10, “I can throw away all the other books I have.”
3. Seek input freely and widely
“Our goal was to collaborate with everyone since we knew we didn’t have all of the answers”, said Michelle. They drew in other smart people such as Joe Dowling, a peak-performance psychologist, and sought feedback from 500-600 mPWR10 users. The 6 habits evolved because so many people have used it and shared their experience and suggestions.
Read the next post to learn 3 more collaboration practices.
Posted in Case Studies, collaboration, Positivity
Tagged collaboration, Debbie Exner, empower, Maddie Hunter, Michelle Chung, Nancy Donahue, passion, peak performance, positivity, purpose, tools, value proposition
Many of my business clients report that an average day is spent going from meeting to meeting. Some would say that half of their life is spent attending, conducting, preparing or following up from meetings. It would therefore seem sensible to assume that if you want to build more positivity in your workplace, a good place to focus would be in the way meetings are conducted.
In our last blog post, we reported research that linked positivity in a team with the incidence of positive statements made, the degree that the statements are about others and the amount of questions that are exchanged among group members. Here are some tips that may help you put this into action during the meetings you lead.
Meetings can enhance positivity.
1. Open each meeting asking for recent accomplishments. “What has happened that you feel good about and want others on the team to know?” In my experience this type of question elicits the telling of stories that help to build a group’s sense of success.
2. Have a standing agenda item – “Way to go!”. Ask for people to share personal compliments for others who have demonstrated collaboration or some other high-priority behavior. In a local medical-surgical nursing unit, this tip is being used to increase the level of coordinated care provided to patients. Compliments help to remind us of our strengths and create stronger relationships with others.
3. Periodically, use a portion of a meeting for everyone to have 5-10 minutes to check in with every other member. These “Check Ins” can be structured to cover a specific set of questions aimed at increasing connectivity and positive regard: What is going well in our relationship? What strengths have I noticed you exhibiting? What can we create that will enhance our effectiveness?
In future posts we will be offering tips about how to increase inquiry in your teams. What can you share to get us started?
For the last 10 days I have become friends with a new muse. In her Muse-Swap blog, Quinn McDonald offered me the opportunity to trade my regular muse in for a new one. I actually didn’t even know that I had a muse but after thinking about how intensely I have been working, I decided I in fact have been selectively listening to one of my muses, the slave-driver. My slave-driver voice has made me too serious and obsessed with work. Once I really thought about it I decided I needed a break from my own intensity. Quinn offered me the perfect swap – a muse who giggles!
Laughing Goat from ingridtaylar at Flickr Creative Commons
Giggles and I have had a ball together. She encouraged me to impulsively plan a 6-day get-away, driving up the coast of Maine with my sweetheart. We’re heading out next week. When my teen aged son and I were handed a worksheet in a personal development workshop we were attending ( I know…sounds like a relapse into seriousness, but oh well…can’t be perfect over night!), I uncharacteristically howled out loud when seeing one of the listed tips for good communication as “Have a goat in mind!”. The typo was inadvertent I’m sure, but my son and I are determined to think about goats now as our code for lightening up when we are struggling to connect!
Don't be low on coolant! Photo by tsja!
I could further tell you how Giggles turned my car leaking coolant on the Saw Mill River Parkway into a funny reminder that I have to drink more water. She also encouraged me to take my shoes off in a furniture showroom and stretch out with my sweetheart to see how comfortable a couch was we were considering as a purchase. Giggles certainly made me daring as well as light-hearted!
Although today marks the end of the Muse Swap, I am not turning my new friend back. I think our collaboration is long overdue and I intend to keep listening to her encouragement to stretch beyond my overly attentive work ethic to have some fun. As is true for many good collaborators, Giggles reminds me that sometimes we have to partner with others who are really different than our natural selves in order to find the answers we seek. I may not be done being serious-minded, but I sure am going to listen for Giggles more often. Thanks to Quinn and my muse-swap buddy for this fun time!
That “I can do it myself” voice seems to show up now and again, and when it does, I sometimes feel like the shoemaker who neglects the holes in her children’s sneakers! That kitchen caper I wrote about last time sure is a good example of this for me, the blogger about collaboration! So what can we do when we feel resistant to collaboration?
Lone Ranger - from a4gpa on Flickr's Creative Commons
I think the first step is to wonder about why the do-it-yourself voice shows up at all.
Do-it-yourself reason #1 – It takes too much time to ask someone else for ideas or input. This could be true sometimes but thinking it is always true keeps us from discovering the gems in someone else’s ideas. When a hospital PR client of mine was called by a member of the press to make a statement on behalf of her organization she had to respond immediately. However, when she was preparing a summary for her Board of all the items happening within the hospital that might get attention by the press she canvassed all of her direct reports for what they knew. It’s about making the best choice for the task at hand.
Do-it-yourself reason #2 – I already know how to accomplish the task. We can sure be know-it-alls! Remember me with the sureness of where those kitchen items best belong when moving into my new kitchen? The truth is my partner has discovered a much better placement of the pots and pans after preparing a few meals there. Showed me, didn’t he!
Do-it-yourself reason #3 – It’s too taxing to resolve the inevitable differences of opinions that result from involving others. Who wants conflict anyway, right? Wrong. Sometimes these differences of opinion mix together and transform into a brand new possibility. Check out the blog of Frans Johansson, the author of The Medici Effect where he relates “intersectional stories”; examples of where innovation comes about from the synergy of differing views.
Maddie Hunter is a business coach who is passionate about exploring the power of collaboration with her clients.
By 7-how-7 at Flickr's Creative Commons
You know the adage that the shoemaker’s kids are the ones with holes in their soles? It also applies to the electrician who jury rigs extension cords rather than re-wiring a room or to the doctor who never gets a physical examination. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that the shoemaker’s syndrome also applies to me when it comes to collaboration.
Just the other day, my sweetheart Ames and I were unpacking more boxes from our move into our new townhouse. This is a big deal to us as this will be the first home we share together. We were focusing on organizing the kitchen. This new kitchen has a wealth of cabinets so we had many choices to make about the best place to store glasses, dishes and the like.
For 40 years, I have always been the one in the family who cooks. Truth be told, I have had a number of families, but what has remained constant is that I have been the cook. Now things are different. Ames is a competent cook. He has been cooking for himself for years. He has had his own home with his own ideas about the best placement for the coffee mugs, the wine glasses or the tall bottles of olive oil.
As we began placing items on the new shiny shelving, I found myself wanting to direct the show. In my mind, I “knew” the best place to put the coffee mugs – – right above the coffee maker, right? As more and more decisions were being made, growing in me was a sense of being unseated in my role as “the cook”. I couldn’t believe that I was arguing with Ames about the need to raise a shelf so we could put the tall cereal boxes right by the shelf with the bowls. I’m sure Ames was thinking but not saying, “…and she’s writing a book about collaboration?”. All that I know about the Rule of Six and diverse ideas being the source for great problem solving seemed to be lost in my brain as I became emotional about being right and in charge.
One of my mentors has always said that “we teach what we need to learn.” I think this is a part of why I am so drawn to thinking about collaboration. My will is strong to be independent and determined. I am a trusted teacher of collaboration and yet I know I am challenged by my own drive to do things myself.
I wonder if you find yourself believing so strongly in something yet not following the belief consistently in your actions? Tell us about how the shoemaker’s syndrome is active in your life.
The setting: A NJ small business conference room
The participants: 12 from NJ; 10 from Beijing, China
The plot: Emerging leaders in a growing life sciences business join together to build their effectiveness as a team.
The challenge: How to find a time to meet where everyone is normally awake and available. Beijing is 12 hours ahead of NJ-time.
The collaborative solution – All participants share in a bit of discomfort with the Beijing folks starting their day a bit early and the NJ folks ending their work days a bit later —Consecutive Tuesday evenings, 6 – 9 PM EST or 6 – 9 AM Beijing time.
Many businesses are dealing with this sort of time zone challenge when doing business today. “Sharing the pain” seems to be a common solution to this challenge where leadership groups trade-off being inconvenienced in order to have time together. Technology helps gives global enterprises tools to assist this sort of collaboration, but how groups decide to operate across time zones speaks to the ability to create and tolerate a new “normal.” In collaborations, there are many trade-offs needed in order for each member to feel accepted and valued.
What has your team done to create an accepting atmosphere for difference?
Posted in business, collaboration, tolerant
Tagged acceptance, Beijing, business challenges, collaboration. Maddie Hunter, Debbie Exner, diversity, doing business in China, global business, leadership development, time zones, tolerance