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Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City Hardcover – February 3, 2015
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“I know one of these guys, so at least half of this book is pretty good. Yes, And is for anyone looking to be more creative in their work and in their life.” (Stephen Colbert)
“If one phrase can capture the essence of the creative mindset then ‘yes, and’ might just be it. If one book can inspire you to apply that creative mindset then Yes, And is most certainly that book.” (--Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design)
“Yes, And takes you behind the curtain of Second City to reveal deep insights and practical tips about how to lead a creative life. If you want to flourish in the new world of work, this book is an essential read.” (--Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human and Drive)
“You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, and you’ll immediately test out the rich set of practical exercises at the office-and the dinner table.” (--Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take)
“Accepting and building on what others have initiated, Yes, Andis the best teamwork advice for the stage or the boardroom.” (--Dick Costollo, CEO of Twitter)
“An excellent guide to the lessons that have bubbled up in Second City’s improv workshops. It sounds crazy that a comedy troupe should have anything to say about how you should lead your life. Trust me: it isn’t.” (Vanity Fair)
From the Back Cover
The Second City has launched the careers of celebrated comic performers such as Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert and produced award-winning content. But it's the actual improvisational process developed and honed over the years by The Second City that has become its legacy. Players master an ability to co-create in ensembles, using philosophies that celebrate a "Yes, And" approach. They embrace authenticity and failure, and espouse the idea of "following the follower," which allows any member of the team to assume a leadership role.
For more than two decades, The Second City has taken these same principles in thousands of corporate clients, showing leaders how to apply the tools of improv to common business challenges. Here, for the first time, Second City executives Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton describe how you can use the same skills that thrill audiences around the world to improve your emotional intelligence, increase creativity, and learn to pivot out of tight and uncomfortable situations. In this engaging, often humorous, and highly practical book, you will learn how to become a more compelling leader and a more collaborative follower by employing the seven elements of improv:
- Yes, And, by which you give every idea a chance to be acted on;
- Ensemble, reconciling the needs of individuals with those of the broader team;
- Co-creation, which highlights the importance of dialogue in creating new products, processes, and relationships;
- Authenticity, or being unafraid to speak truth to power, challenge convention, and break the rules;
- Failure, teaching us that not only is it okay to fail, but we should always include it as part of our process;
- Follow the Follower, which gives any member of the group the chance to assume a leadership role;
- Listening, in which you learn to stay in the moment, and know the difference between listening to understand and listening merely to respond.
When we are fiercely following the tenets of improvisation, we generate ideas both quickly and efficiently, we weather storms with more aplomb, and we don't work burdened by a fear of failure. Even better, these qualities are fully transferable to our lives outside the office.
More people are beginning to recognize what The Second City has known for a long time: In the midst of a revolution in how we learn, communicate, and work, professional success often rests on the same pillars that form the foundation of great comedy: Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. That's where improvisation comes in.
Top Customer Reviews
The book could have used a LOT more examples. Way too often it describes how some technique is really helpful applied to a business and then doesn't show us an instance of when and how it helped. There are some examples in the book, but maybe 20% of what you'd want in order to actually understand and be convinced by the material they present.
The theme of this book is to use comedy improv training to help people become more creative, more innovative, more open to other ideas. In comedy improv, they call the practice of building up on another person's start the "Yes, And" approach. By using this approach "creative breakthroughs occur in environments where ideas are not just fully explored, but heightened and stretch two levels that might seem absurd at first."
In our work life, when we work in groups, we try to be more willing to listen and to build up on the others ideas. At Second City, the performers did not become great by working as a soloist; instead, they did it by learning to work in groups. The authors call this habit, "The importance of the ensemble." Second city realized after a half of century of doing comedy, that "dialogues push stories further than monologues."
One of the more interesting ideas in this book is the idea of "Follow the follower." What this means is that a group is free to allow any member to be the leader for a time that is when his or her expertise is particularly needed.
There is one part of this book--right at the very end, that is worth the price of admission alone. It is a list of tips on how to communicate with people better. Here's a few:
♠ Look people in the eye when you meet them.
♠ Don't check your text or email when someone else is talking. (Oh that one hits too close to home.)
The authors include an appendix that are actually exercises based on the routines of Second City. There is also an extensive NOTES section. as well as an. index.
√ All in all, YES, AND was a surprising book.Read more ›
-- Gratuitous name dropping for no other reason than attempting to lend credibility.
-- Patronizing writing attempting shape our imagination as to how principles can be applied outside of theatre.
-- Lack of defined interlocutor/audience: is it a management book? Business book? creativity self-learning book? Or a pitch to hire them for your business?
-- Continual switching of 'voice' with the reader.
In later chapters of the book, (Using Failure & Follow the Follower) it reads much better. The writers use specific examples from their experience, go into details about what happened, then extract clear principles that resonate through out the rest of the chapter in a concise, authentic readable manner. - More of this!
If you are looking for great stories and humorous anecdotes of Second City... you'll probably be disappointed.
If you are looking for a concise management book that will give you food for thought... you'll probably be frustrated by the uneven tone of the book.
* For creativity and nourishing a creative culture within an organization... look up: Ed Catmull's book on Pixar: "Creativity.inc"
But, if you can accept their self-aggrandizing importance of improvisation and be able to look through the occasionally patronizing language... you will uncover some worthy ideas for life (Active listening, "Yes, and", give and take, embracing Failure, leadership is intelligent following, and basic translations of the d.school design thinking process).
The writers have the potential for a great book here. Unfortunately in its current form, it doesn't read fully formed... Yet.
I bought this book on a whim. I liked second city and the title grabbed me, because as a peacebuilder, I focus on both-and rather than either-or solutions, so Yes, And sort of struck a chord.
What I realized as I read the book that improv and problem solving have a lot in common wherever they occur. Their tools resonate with what works for my colleagues on the ground--work in teams (whoops, I mean ensembles), listen well, build on and support what others are say, and most of all, yes-and the person you are working with. Always take what s/he is saying AND build on it. Expand the frame of the discussion.
You'll probably get somewhere and have some fun getting there.
I was reading the book and smiling when the CEO of the group I work for came in. Melanie and I are both Jewish and I was reading about Jewsical the Musical which got us laughing more than it did Second City audiences.
Then, I explained why I was reading the book, and we both simultaneously decided that we should get the Second City folks to do a workshop at the Alliance for Peacebuilding's next annual conference so that our idiot savant improv artists could get some serious training (hopefully in some not so serious ways) in doing what they already do better.
If only we could afford them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Needs more examples of applying the concepts. The authors think very highly of themselves. Less talk about how great second city isPublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I love the concept of "Yes, And..." as a means of building collaborative teams. The book has a tendency to oversimplify things with anecdotes ("We did this and got this desirable... Read morePublished 6 months ago by John Fitch
This was an interesting books with a lot of great principles that can be applied in everyday life. I agree with some of the other posts that more time could have been spent on... Read morePublished 6 months ago by PERSEPHONE BAILEY
Beautifully written and powerful--a must read for those looking to build the organizations of the future.Published 7 months ago by Katleen S.
This booked is loaded with so many leadership techniques it is mind boggling. Embrace the philosophy of Yes And and live in the other persons shoes for a moment, park your agenda,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Peter A. Margaritis
This is a great book grounded in real life but supported by well developed theories (not included in book but if you read management books you should know the theories)Published 9 months ago by Pursuit of Phronesis