How To Save Your Brainstorming Session

How can you use the power of "Yes, and..." to encourage teamwork and new ideas?


Scott Docherty draws from his expertise in helping organizations develop and define strategic vision, combined with his improvisation performance and coaching experience to provide powerful tips on the best way drive a truly productive brainstorming session. In this video, Scott shares the secret to great collaboration that works in business and in improv: the power of "Yes, and..." "Yes, and..." is an improvisation technique that encourages teamwork and inspires people to build on ideas. Discover how to increase the productivity and positivity of your brainstorming sessions and reduce negativity by using "Yes, and..." and the simple meeting management tips Scott offers. You will also learn key leadership principles around valuing individual communication; creating a "safe" environment, and eliminating the notion of "wrong ideas."

So I've got this kind of dual personality. I work in the business world, but at the same time, outside of work, I'm also a improviser. So if you're familiar with the show called "Whose Line is it Anyway?" that's what we do. I work in a troop with three other people, and we put on a two-hour show. So I take the principles and rules that I know about improv, and I apply those within the business world. And probably, the most important principle to teach any kind of business is this idea of "Yes, And. . . ," is that the idea that everything that's given to you is a gift. We don't see that a whole lot in the business world at all.

Let me give you a perfect example. I bet most of us are familiar with this kind of situation. You've been invited to a brainstorming meeting. And someone who's organized this meeting has a problem statement. And they've said, "I've invited you to this meeting because we need to come up with some creative solutions to this problem statement that's on the board behind me. So let me open the floor. Does anybody have any great ideas?" Somebody might be brave enough to actually go first and say, "Yeah, I've got an idea." And they start explaining what they're thinking. They might not even get finished with that thought or idea, and someone in the room will likely say, "Hey, hey, great idea Joe. But you know what? We've tried that before and it doesn't work. So, anybody else? Anybody else got any other ideas?"

Problem with that is that as soon as someone says that, you've just told everyone else in the room that there are such things as wrong ideas. The definition of an idea is that it can't be wrong. It's just creative thinking. And so you might intentionally feel like the solution might not work. What I would encourage you to do is don't communicate that. Still capture the idea. And when you capture the idea and say, "Hey, thanks a lot. Anybody else?" what you've done is you've just now given permission to everybody else in the room to say, "My voice is valued. My idea is going to be considered."

"Yes, And. . ." is so important in improvisation, because you need to be able to agree with whatever is being given to you. Accept it as a gift and move forward and add to it and take it to a new place. But first and most important is the agreement part. And in the business world, we're great at negating almost everything. We're great at quickly identifying what is wrong or what doesn't work, instead of agreeing with something and adding to it. So just the same way in the business world, I would say it's so critical to take every single thing that's given to you as a gift and see what you can add to it. Accept it and multiply.


Scott Docherty

Scott Docherty is a creativity trainer at Procter & Gamble, using the principles of improvisation to coach employees and help them unleash their creativity to drive business innovation. In his current role at Proctor and Gamble, S...

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