Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Nope- I’m not talking about the testing term regression.  Yesterday was one of those days I took a step backwards (it's possible the month of August was one big regression).  One of the most basic rules you learn in Improv is to “yes and”.  There are no “no buts…” 

I’ve been taking Level 2 of Improv for the past several weeks. For the most part it’s taking what we learned in Level 1 and building upon those lessons.  It’s still scary…still fun…still 2 hours a week that I don’t think about anything but be in the moment. 

Last night I made a basic mistake in several scenes.  Instead of ‘yes anding’ my scene partner I sort of ‘no butted’.  If your partner tells you that you’re a cheerleader on a field, you shouldn’t tell her that she’s mistaken and that you flunked out of cheerleading.  Improv is about building on one another – I should have taken her statement as fact and brought it to the next level.  I need to remember to yes and…yes I’m a cheerleader on a field; I’m on a golf course cheering on miniature golfers at the park and got this cut on my forehead because I was too close to the windmill. Building on your partner allows the scene to grow and become interesting. Negating your partner can take it to a stand still.

It was a good mistake to make, because I’m able to learn from it.  Not only did I do this in Improv class, I think lately I’ve been making the same mistake in work too.

We’re in the middle of our 2014 planning.  We’ve established our strategic initiatives and goals; we’re in the process of mapping out how we’re going to get there (realizing that the path could will change during the course of the year).  This is the time of year that I hear the most from a variety of internal constituencies on the best ways to get there. J  It’s awesome to have this level of engagement from the folks you work with.  It also starts to get draining.  I realized tonight that I’ve been saying “no but” more then I should be on some of the ideas that have been funneling through. 

As product managers we know it’s about investing in the right ideas that create the greatest value that aligns to our markets.  We don’t have time to investigate all of them, but we need to make sure we’re listening so that we understand which ones to pursue.  To do that, we need to be open to all ideas and approach them as if they could be a reality so we’re able to determine their true potential. I’m taking a step back and remembering to “yes and” more in my day job.

If you read this post and are thinking "yep, got it, I'm good".  I thought the same thing. Try saying "yes and" to things for an entire week - this will be a good test to ensure you're there.  If you're reading this post thinking it won't work for me because I've got too much on my plate and I've got the experience to tell good ideas from ones that won't work - you are essentially saying "no but" - just try yes and for a week...what harm could that be?

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