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The Seven Elements of Improv

1. Yes, And • The bedrock of all improvisations. Answering with “Yes, And” allows ideas to flow.

2. Ensemble • People who become stars don’t get there but working solo. They spring from high-functioning ensembles.

3. Co-Creation • Dialogues push stories further than monologues.

4. Authenticity • When people laugh, they’re often laughing at a shared truth in the room. Use irreverence to own up to faults and grapple with truths. 

5. Failure • The biggest threat to creativity is fear, especially fear of failure. It is vital to give failure a role in your process.

6. Follow the Follower • This principle gives the group the flexibility to allow any member to assume leadership for as long as his or her expertise is needed, and then to shuffle the hierarchy again once the group’s needs change.

7. Listening • Listening keeps you in the moment — not looking backward or jumping three steps ahead.

Adapted from Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration, by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton


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