The genius of the “and”…


“Collaborative innovation involves the genius of the “and” versus the tyranny of the “or.” It’s not that brainstorming must always turn into “Groupthink” or that introverts or individuals have the best ideas. In good brainstorming, one feeds off the other and the end result is significantly more powerful than either approach alone.” – Harvard Business Review 

The need, space, and time for “Passionate Champions” to “and” an idea is the often missing step in the brainstorming process, says this latest article from HBR. 

Step One: Collaborate on ideas as a group. Make sure everyone is heard, help individuals improve their own thinking and be exposed to ideas they may not have thought of on their own.

Step Two: Open up the session to passionate, individual champions:

“Anyone, alone or with other people if they need or want help, can pick any idea and develop it further. Even if the idea has already been developed in one direction, a Passionate Champion may see it very differently and develop it in a totally different manner. Or, they can pick an idea that was not advocated by the group or selected by the client, and develop it as they see fit.

In our work, we find that Passionate Champion ideas often account for 50% of those that make it through internal and external vetting, and 20-30% of the ideas that make it into final concepts. What’s more, they are often the most breakthrough in terms of truly new, game-changing concepts.”

Create the safe environment for ideas to flow, allow those who want to “yes, and” an idea to do so. Who can say yes to an idea in your organization? 

What’s the drill – June 5: To push or to yield?

Last night I enjoyed a get together with the wonderful community of Bay Area Improvisers that feels like home to me, and in conversation with one good friend I asked:

What is the one most important thing Improv has taught you?

Her answer was short and sweet: It taught her to push and to yield.

Pushing and yielding may also be defined as give and take, dominance and submission, saying yes or saying no…etc.

Improv taught her, and teaches many people what it means to push and yield, what your own tendency is, and how and when to play either role.

But I’ll give you a secret – knowing when to push or to yield isn’t really about you. It’s about the other person. If you put all your attention and focus on the other person in your meeting, presentation, conversation, or improv scene – well, then you’ll pick up on how much to push or to yield.

It’s important to know how to play each role, and to have the confidence and self-awareness to do either. But the other person (your partner) will give you the clues and signs you need along the communication highway.

Wanted: Idea Fusers – Bronwyn Fryer – Harvard Business Review

It is said, to innovate is to fuse two previously unmatched things together. More and more companies are looking to train employees on associative thinking to increase their capacity for innovation (Improv training is high on this list, as we know!)

Today’s blog from HBR also makes the case for diversity in experience, collaboration and the appreciation of different ideas and whole brain thinking to increase innovation.

Wanted: Idea Fusers – Bronwyn Fryer – Our Editors – Harvard Business Review.

In need of a creative breakthrough? Consider this…

There are moments when it seems we will never break through of our writers block, or find the solution to a nagging problem, or think of the perfect copy for an advertising client.

If you’ve ever felt creatively blocked, consider one very possible reason – your censor.

A censor is no friend to creativity, innovation or brainstorming. It’s the little judge in our brain that says (I imagine in a high-pitched British accent):

“your idea isn’t good enough/original enough/smart enough/funny enough”

“don’t bother saying that, no one will like it”

“it’s been done before”

“have another crumpet instead”.

Of course, there may be other reasons for our blockage, but getting rid of our censor is key to spontaneity, and thus, improvising. During Improv training, participants strengthen their spontaneity muscles by first become aware of their censor and then learning to control or lessen it over time. It can take a long time to ignore that voice in our heads, but I promise it gets easier with practice.

Improvisers are forced to suspend judgement on not just our ideas, but our partners ideas as well. We must truly react to whatever is thrown at us, and there is no time to sit and think about whether our ideas are strong enough. Everything we say or do is valuable and accepted.

Many of us censor ourselves (especially at work) because we don’t feel as if we can fail, take risks, or say the “wrong thing”. If you are in an environment where risk-taking, or small failures are not accepted or even encouraged, creativity can most definitely be stifled. I’ll touch on that in a later blog post.