Charly Kleissner and his fellow collaborators at the Rockefeller Foundation have produced an excellent book on social impact investing: Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation. It talks about one of the most important concepts in life: “the and.” In a magnificent way, it mirrors one of the most important principles in improv, which is “yes and.”
“Yes, And” On The Stage
When on the improv stage, a key principle is listening to and supporting your partner. You create a very strong sense of team. You also further the story in a way that is interesting to the audience. For example, if someone says, “let’s go to the store,” you can “yes and” it by saying, “wonderful, I love JZ’s store, because it has such great antiques that date back to the fifties!” What you have done is “yes and-ed” your partner. You have essentially built on the first concept they introduced, a store, while adding a name and descriptive product about the store.
You’re building the scene together, adding color, life and meaning to it.
Contrary to good improv, one could have done a “yes but.” For example, “Okay, that store is fine, but I really want to go to the movies.” That is denying your partner on stage. It invalidates their idea. And you are not moving the story forward. You’ve essentially blocked them.
Your story has now halted…and your partner does not feel supported.
This is the importance of “yes and-ing” rather than “yes but-ing.” I think of this often for how we live life off the stage. Am I building off of someone’s idea, and Building Upwards?
“The And” of Investing
Charly Kleissner’s latest book has opened up a new paradigm for those involved in financial investing. Their core concept is that one can invest financially in a project which provides a financial return, and a social return. One shouldn’t have to make a choice.
And one doesn’t have to make a choice if you evaluate the project from financial, social, environmental and community aspects. Charly and his co-authors encourage investors to look not only at the core product but also the manufacturing processes, the supply chain, its employee practices, community presence, government structures, and impact on the industry. All of these factors can contribute to building a healthy company, strong community and a strong financial return. In fact, the authors of Solutions for Impact Investors call not doing this the “Tyranny of Or.”
Jim Collins’ “The Genius of And”
Jim Collins, author of Built to Last discourages companies from this “Tyranny of Or” by asking companies to follow “The Genius of And.” (page 14) He emphasizes the importance of short-term and long-term performance, of profit and, the pursuit of purpose beyond profit.
Solutions for Impact Investors then takes this to the next level by examining all the components which can make these investments work. Investments that benefit not only one’s portfolio, but also a sustainable environment, community, and corporation.
The Beauty of “Yes And”
So we go back to the beauty of “Yes And.” Whether you’re an investor, an improviser on the stage, leader of a team project at a company, mom, or a rugby captain, we can all practice the glory of “yes and-ing” one another. Be a part of Building Upwards… and add to the good already there.