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Yes, and...Business Improv

We are told the way to achieve success in business and life is with hard work and elbow grease: a person’s gotta’ hustle to make it to the top, right? While this axiom may be partially true, another component of success comes from creative and intentional collaboration. While hustling and striving as individuals can get us partially en route to our success, the truth is that achievement is a shared product of working together.


I recently had the opportunity to lead an interactive improv workshop at the Women Leading Montana’s 2019 Convening in Billings. The goal of the 2-day conference was for women in roles of leadership to connect, collaborate, and support each other in their work to build stronger communities and businesses.


One of the workshop’s key themes was the Improv Comedy Principle of “Yes, and... .” This essential improvisational rule is utilized by improv comedians to move a scene forward and keep the focus on serving the scene’s overall goal. By affirming a partner’s idea (Yes,) and then adding to it with information and ideas of their own (and...), collaborative improvisers are able to serve the greater goal of the scene and move it forward. Through interactive games and group reflection, the Women Leading Montana workshop discovered how to use the “Yes, and...” Principle in business collaborations in order to generate a shared and successful vision.


One businesswoman in the Eugene/Springfield area who has achieved success through collaboration and incorporating the “Yes, and...” Principle in her partnerships, is Nancy Bigley, a co-owner of Jazzercise Eugene. Nancy and her business partner, Liz Schneider, have owned Jazzercise Eugene for 7 years. Nancy, who has a business background and Liz, whose background is in education both have a love of dance and understand the value and power of collaboration in running a thriving business. By utilizing the “Yes, and…" Principle in their work together, they have affirmed and added to each other’s ideas. One important co-creation was the crafting of their shared vision for the business: every person who comes to the Jazzercise studio will feel good when they arrive, and better when they leave. This guiding vision and intentional collaboration have allowed them to make decisions together that has resulted in a thriving business that serves the community in a vibrant and supportive wellness space, where people can dance their way to better health.


Similar to the women at the Women Leading Montana’s Annual Convening, Nancy and Liz have found success through creative and intentional, yet improvisational collaboration. They possess a collaborative, improv-mindset that is open to new ideas. Men and women alike can learn something from these inspirational business leaders about the power of co-creation and the value of the improvisational “Yes, and...” Principal. When collaboration is the common value and guiding force (rather than a fixed and individualistic point of view) improv can support the relationship and strengthen the method for creative communication.

Contact Erica Towe @ ericatowecoaching@gmail.com for how you can use improv in your business.

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