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Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City
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Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  775 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation—reveal improvisational techniques that can help any organization develop innovators, encourage adaptable leaders, and build transformational businesses.

For more than fifty years, The Second City comedy theater in Chicago has been a training ground for some of the best comic minds
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Harper Business
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Start your review of Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City
Kressel Housman
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
The title of this book comes from the basic concept behind improvisational theater: “Yes, and.” In other words, one actor invents a line on the spot, like, “Wow! Look at all those stars!” The other actor has to come up with an instant response by agreeing to the scenario and adding to it. For example, he might say, “Yeah. Things sure look different up here on the moon.”

Once you become aware of “Yes, and,” you’ll see actors on talk shows doing it all the time. Stephen Colbert does it with Jon
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is simply a regurgitation of information from bigger and better business books, wrapped in a skin of self-promotion. If you can see past the name-dropping on every other page, the underlying content is somewhat enjoyable.
Kelly 💜☕️
This book came to me at just the right time. I'm not sure how it got on my radar, but I recommended it to my library for purchase and then it came up that they had added it to the collection. So it was automatically checked out to me. So glad it came in the first few weeks of the year! I had been trying to determine what my word of the year for 2018 was going to be... and while reading this book, I realized that my word for 2018 is LISTEN. I need to listen to my husband instead of asking him to ...more
Jay Hennessey
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
Just finished reading this book for my second time, nearly 3 years since I first read it. I found the book to be equally as inspiring as the first time, reminding me of so many powerful concepts of leadership and high performing organizations, specifically:
- Communication as an operational imperative
- Break down Organizational Silos
- Failure as a driver of success (so many similarities with Lean Startup)
- Listening and Empathy
- A culture of building on people’s ideas
- How to foster a culture of
Penny Ramirez
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, leadership
This was a very different take on leadership, from the perspective of improvisation. I'd attended a session at PLA one year that had us do "Yes, And" exercises - it's quite a challenging mindset to put yourself into when you're used to saying NO most of the time. Reading this book helped me put it in perspective, and I think now I'm better equipped to embrace the philosophy. Not sure I'd survive the "don't say NO for an entire day" concept - I might explode the way one of the examples did in the ...more
May Ling
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, management
Summary: If you're looking for books on how to get your team to be more creative, this should likely be on the list. I know a lot of the elements to be true. Yes and vs. No but is all the difference in communication.

While the book is excellent for advice on brainstorming and collaboration, I think at times, it assumes always the best of intentions. In work settings there are an array of things that people are trying to accomplish. There is a section where they even discuss this a bit, i.e. the
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Given the association with Second City and improv comedy, I was expecting a more captivating book than this was. It was only so-so, and I skimmed through the 212 pages pretty quickly. There were a few interesting anecdotes, but overall, kind of a 'meh...' book. That is, until I got literally to the last two pages, that contain "One Last List", which is taped to the wall of the Second City office, and is the best part of the whole book (repeated below verbatim)!

Look people in the eye when you
Kirk Hanley
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of books out there about improv, but very few good ones on how to apply the principles in your work and career. This one fills that gap with an easy conversational style. I have worked with both Kelly and Tom at the Second City and they really know their stuff. If you want to help improve your work relationships, have more fun in your job, and be more creative and innovative to help advance you business and career, start here. Highly recommended.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: improv
It's good. Mine will be better ;-) ;-) ;-)
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This book has so much good insight into how and why seven elements of improv can improve your business and build better teams. I just wish it didn't read so much like a marketing tool for Second City.

Some of the case studies presented seems highly relevant to the element being put forth, but others seemed shoehorned in, like "we should tell them about this thing but where does it go? Oh, just put it this section on listening." All that makes the book about half as long as it needs to be.

As a
Billy Taylor
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good read for leaders and team members. I felt convicted multiple times throughout this read. This one touches on several essential skills for leaders. From active listening, agility, releasing control, to preparation and environment.

Leaders of all tenure and experience level should pick this one up. You will find good reminders on what you may have already learned and new perspective on your role.
Shannon Churm
Jul 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
I could not finish this book. I was curious about the tips, suggestions and instructions but they’ve surrounded that information with stories all with the same point. It gets boring very quickly. It feels like the actual useful information would only take up 50 pages so they’ve just filled in the rest with useless stories.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Many of the points raised in this book are common sense, but sometimes it's valuable to have common sense advice pulled together in a succinct, funny book like this!
Seemed like a long sales pitch for the 2nd City Consultancy, so I dropped it.
Katrina Sark
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Many parts read a bit too prescriptive for corporate businesses, and read like a manual, but overall great insights into the imrov values and psychology. Here are some good quotes:

p.9 – The founders of The Second City – Paul Sils, Bernie Sahlins, and Howard Alk, all University of Chicago graduates – approached their work on two important fronts. They created a new form for the comic arts: ensemble based and rooted in the improvisational games that Sill’s mother, Viola Spolin, taught as a social
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: improv
Some weeks ago, I finished listening to Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration -- Lessons from The Second City, from Kelly Leonard, Tom Yorton.

Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton wrote a book to convey the role Improvisation may have on corporate life, based on their experience in offering training and workshops through Second City, a well-known comedy theatre, from Chicago.

They suggest Improvisation skills can have a positive impact on
Ivan Lam
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Note: I listened to the audiobook version.

It's a nice book talking about the history of Second City and giving tips, advice, and exercises on how to be more open and adopt the "Yes, and" attitude. One reviewer said that the book is a big self pat-on-the-back, and while there were moments of pride in there, it was relatively low-key. There were plenty of examples of exercises given to the theater as well as businesses to encourage creativity, but I wish there were more. I suppose I was expecting
Forest Collins
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm taking improv at the moment & one of the things are instructor encourages us to do is read books about improv as supplements to the classes. So, I picked up this one because it talks about applying improv principals to your regular life - which is pretty much why I'm taking improv in the first place.

Kelly Leonard is an Exec Director at Second City, an improvisational institution that has trained some of the best in the biz: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd,
Ryan Morton
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Solid book on improv, business (whatever line of work you're in), life, and how they all fit together.

I read this as an improvisers myself, who wants to bring the benefits of that experience to my workplace. The writing is simple, fun, humorous, and organized well. The basics (and intermediate) improv concepts I've learned are interwoven into this book in bite-sized pieces that I've been implementing at work and in my non-profit work.

Even if you haven't already hopped onstage for your first
Mr. Smidl
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A friend of mine agreed that this book felt like a long ad to sell the services of The Second City. For those that are in a position of leadership and have not been a part of the creative community in any way, this would be a good recommendation to understand the process of listening, communicating, and engaging in an effective and collaborative manner. In theatre, we are expected to be bold and daring. Theatre makes individuals experiment, to try something different. This, in the grand scheme, ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Improvisation... We do it every day, yet few of us realise it (maybe this is because half of us are asleep and haven't awoken yet, but I could be wrong). This book outlines the basics of Improv and skims the surface instead of taking a deep dive into the details, which in turn enlightens (awakens) the reader for having read it!

Improv is "the" actionable tool to all your Lean Methodology and human needs. Definitely one of the ones I'm keeping on the dusty book shelf.

Now, sorry to be an
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the concept we've been missing in training and hiring where I work. It will help those who have a difficult time dealing with the unknown or the 75 permutations that can't be documented in policy or procedure. It also gives me an interesting angle for hiring. Here's hoping we can now find a way to use this in the workplace! (It was a happy coincidence that I read this right after reading Amy Poehler's Yes, Please. I may go next to Tina Fey's Bossypants, which is still on my to-read ...more
Matthew Hodge
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Some interesting insights into how improv comedy principles could lead to better interactions in business.

My only problem with it is that because improv is a team sport, you would need people high up in your company to really embrace this way of thinking for it to take off. In other words, is it immediately practical?

But personally after reading this, I would love to take improv lessons. So Leonard and Yorton have certainly sold that part of it to me!
Suman Srivastava
I have recently got interested in how improv helps, well, improve empathy with people. I got introduced to the concept through Alan Alda's book "If I understood you, would I have this look on my face?" I came to this book thinking it would be a how-to book. And it is in many ways. Although it really is a commercial for the workshops that The Second City can do for your organisation. Maybe someday I can participate in such a workshop. Fascinating exercises in the book.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
From the title, I didn't realize this was geared almost entirely for business - I was hoping for things I could apply to everyday life or parenting. I've never heard of The Second City, so a lot of their talk about its success seemed self-congratulatory. Some of the parts about the specific improv exercises were interesting, but mostly it just seemed to drag on. I probably shouldn't have finished this one.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm back to writing book summaries, so it will be interesting to see what pops up in my feed. I'm glad this was the first pick. I love anything that highlights the importance of listening.

I like to reconsider tradition thinking: The author challenges, "Your team is only as strong as your weakest link" by saying, "Your ensemble is only as good as its ability to compensate for its weakest member.”

I'm going to think about that for a while.

Teri Peterson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Perhaps a touch longer than was strictly necessary....and with a bit more self-congratulatory note than I personally prefer. I’m already reading the book so don’t need to be continually sold on why I should listen to you.
However...useful insights from the world of improv that translate easily into leadership skills anyone can learn, and that I have seen work (even when I didn’t know the theory or technicalities).
Ahmed M Sammoud
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book offers a lot of good advice and ways to improve your perspective, and how to use improvisation techniques to improve yourself. but one thing to note is while One of The authors many useful advise is to eliminate the I and replace it with We, the I in this book is big. the book some times feel like a promotion to second City courses. regardless there are a lot is good advice and I would recommend it .
Tres Jimenez
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So refreshing to learn the rules of improv for business interaction.
This book can drive culture change when it comes to innovation, change, continuous improvement
More "yes and" in your world to keep the conversation going.
Yes and is supported by "I've got your back"

Great read for improving presentation skills too!
Kristen Lemaster
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
So many exercises to take into diversity & inclusion trainings, professional staff meetings, student groups, and truly any social context. While this book reads as super straightforward, there's a depth to each section that encourages more exploration and reflection - going to be thinking about this one for a while.
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“Too often we are told that failure is not an option. But the opposite is true. It’s vital to give failure a role in your process. The biggest threat to creativity is fear, especially the fear of failure. By deflating the negative power of failure, you erode fear and allow creativity to flourish.” 1 likes
“If you can create an ensemble where everyone agrees to surrender the need to be right, you will increase productivity by leaps and bounds. You will create an environment where innovation can flourish; you will also make everyone happier.” 1 likes
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