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Make each other look good

Oct 03, 2022

A few years back, I was speaking at a conference, and as part of my session I ran a little game called "Yes, let’s!" - which comes from the world of improvisation. The game goes like this: 

Working in small groups, one person suggests what the group should do (for example, “Let’s stand on one foot!”). Everyone else in the group responds with “Yes, let’s!” and immediately carries through with it for a few moments, until someone else in the group eventually makes a fresh suggestion. And so on it goes.

“Let’s point to things that are green!"

“Yes, let’s!”

[Everyone points to things that are green]

“Let’s walk around like chickens!”

“Yes, let’s!”

[Everyone walks around like a chicken]

“Let’s sit on these chairs and relax for 1 minute!”

“Yes, let’s!”

[Everyone sits on a chair and makes a concerted effort to relax for one minute] 

As simple as it might seem, the game is an invitation for people to experience the flow of positive acceptance and play - without resistance, without judgement. You can imagine the laughter and chaos in a room when you have 20 or so groups all playing this at once!

"Yes, let’s!" is a masterclass in one of the most powerful improvisation principles: make each other look good.

When you play the game, the challenge (perhaps you can sense it already?) is to yield control to the person proposing the next act. No matter what they suggest, you have to accept the offer with delight and enthusiasm. Hang on, Simon, doesn't that sound risky? What if they set me up to do something ridiculous? Well, it might be risky, except the proposer is also playing to the same principle: make your partner look good. In other words, the objective is to only propose things that will inspire your team mates, or make them happy. So the challenge cuts both ways.

As I run this game, I walk around and ask people as they play: are you inspiring your team mates? Are you lighting up their eyes? (If the answer is no, then perhaps you’re not playing it right.)

What a great principle for teams to adopt. No matter what happens, we make one another look good. 

What does that mean for you and your team? 

Until next time!


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