How About Yes, And … ?

I hear a lot of “No, but…” and people tell me why they can’t possibly do the thing I suggested. I agree with them. I often say something like this, “Yes, you are correct. Yes, that would be a problem here. And, could this other thing be a possibility?”

Sometimes they say yes, and we go from there. Often, they say no, or no, but. In that case, I focus on the results they want and other alternatives they might consider.

I said, “Yes, and …” I didn’t tell them they were wrong. They were correct. I didn’t tell them they had no right to their opinions. I might disagree, and I prefer to honor their opinions. I have suggested something that they didn’t consider yet.

Yes, and… helps people see alternatives without confrontation. It helps people consider new alternatives. I focus my Yes ands on the results we want to achieve, not the path for achieving them.

Yes and comes from improv. I use it as a prompt for me (and my client) to think about the Rule of Three.

We have ways of solving problems that have worked for us in the past. Now, we have this problem that doesn’t seem malleable in the way problems were previously.

Here’s one way a recent client, Sandy, used Yes and. The team was interrupted almost every day with new or different work. The team members never quite finished anything. The team members were frustrated and so was management. Sandy met with the person who provided work and changed that work for the team, Clive.  Sandy said, “I would like to make it possible for the team to finish their work in a given two-week period. What do we need to do to achieve that?”

Clive said, “That’s not possible. This team is too slow.”

Sandy said, “Yes, that’s true right now. And, what could we do to make the team not slow?”

Clive sat back and said, “If they worked together on a given item, they would go faster.”

Sandy said, “Yes, and do you have any ideas about how to do that?”

Clive said, “Just tell them!”

Sandy said, “Yes, I might. Thank you. And, do you have any other ideas?” Sandy paused and said, “Is it possible for you to make the features smaller, so the team can finish faster?”

Clive said, “I don’t see how.”

Sandy led a discussion where he explained how these three things were really about eight different features. Then, the client asked, “How often do you need to change what the team works on?”

Clive said, “I need the flexibility to change things every day.”

Sandy said, “Hmm. Okay. I wonder what we can do to relieve the pressure on you, so you don’t need to do that.”

Clive had a look of surprise on his face. “You would do that for me?” he asked.

“Of course,” Sandy said. “It’s in everyone’s best interests if you and the team can succeed. Why wouldn’t I?”

Sandy created several possibilities that Clive and the team can use as experiments. Yes and made it possible to create more choices.

That’s the question this week: How about Yes, and…?

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