Stop wasting time being stuck. Do this instead.

Frankie Kemp

23 May 2020

Having been doing comedy Improv for nearly a decade, there’s this mantra about affirming the ideas of your stage partners, rather than blocking them: you ‘yes, and’ your partner.

For example:

“Let’s have a picnic.”

“Yes, and we can do it on the balcony cos of the plague.” (said, Samuel Pepys as he was ordering yet more unnecessary items off Amazon in 1665).

This would be better than a blocking move such as, “I don’t like picnics.”

Two ways that keep you stuck

There are some Improv Evangelists who then attempt to impose this philosophy in the workzone, saying ‘yes, and’ to any batty idea that comes out of someone’s mouth. Take the statement below, for example:

“Let’s franchise our half-hatched idea with no marketing budget.”

Yes, and let’s do it now.”

As you can see, this is a blind acceptance rather than affirming a workable idea.

You might just respond with, “No, that’s stupid.”

However, you can end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater by chucking the WHOLE idea away.

Even within seemingly ridiculous ideas, there’s often a seed of something that will develop into, if not, brilliance, at least something, workable.

So how do you get to that seed?

The mental flip that will get you out of a fix instantly

Use ‘YES, IF’

If we take the last proposal of the franchise, the response may then be:

Yes, if we complete it within a month and use a social media campaign with current clients, this has more chance of working.”

‘Yes, if’ also works on a personal level, such as in the example below:

“We’ll keep all mobiles out the bedroom at night.”

You’ve your sleep app and alarm on your phone so you’re not keen to do this.  However, instead of rejecting the idea outright you add, “Yes, if we’re using it for emails and social media”.

Or “Yes, if I use a cheap or old phone without email, I can use that.”


‘Yes, if’ prompts solutions that are practical and more creative, taking into account the realities of the situation.

Next time you feel stuck, or instinctively want to reject an idea, use ‘Yes, if’ to open up possibilities.


Your Action:

1. Be aware of when you are shutting down or over-accepting a solution or idea.

2. Begin your response with “Yes, if…” and see how solutions manifest….

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