'Yes and'

One of the most important and popular concepts we teach in our innovation workshops is “Yes, and...” Borrowed from improv comedy, it is a mindset and approach that builds upon what others suggest rather than blocking the flow of possibilities. So, when an opportunity or idea is suggested, instead of responding with ways the idea wouldn’t work - which often feels like the responsible thing to do,  the protocol – no matter what the suggestion – is to respond with an enthusiastic “Yes, and…”, then build on the idea in wonderful and unexpected directions.

2017 has been a catalytic year for CoreAlign and “Yes, and...” 

Yes, the Presidential election was a crisis, and we were willing to see it as an opportunity to redesign our work to meet the urgent demand for innovation and multiracial collaboration. The subsequent programmatic and organizational pivot felt powerful and purposeful.

Yes, in the middle of the pivot, I was recruited to apply for a faculty position at The New School in New York. And – rather than dismissing the invitation as scary and improbable – along with the CoreAlign staff, I opened up to the possibilities this opportunity could bring.

In August, I was offered a full professorship at The New School[1] in the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy; teaching organizational management, leadership, social movements and innovation. As of September 1st, I will spend half my time at The New School and half as Executive Director of CoreAlign – all the while exploring the possibilities that this intersection creates for the organization and the work.

Throughout the application and negotiation process, I made sure that staff was kept informed and had multiple opportunities to reflect on the implications of this move for themselves personally and for their positions, and for them to think about what they could be saying, “Yes, and…” to.

The new role will let us collectively to build on CoreAlign’s learnings around leadership, movement-building, innovation and race; and explore new platforms for achieving CoreAlign’s vision. While it could have felt irresponsible to consider this job opening during our pivot, responding with “Yes, and…” instead has led to amazing new relationships, learnings, colleagues, resources and possibilities.

I will work in both positions through December of 2018, giving the organization and staff time to explore possibilities at The New School and with our friends and allies in the reproductive movement; to both find the best ways to build on CoreAlign’s significant body of work, and to leverage opportunities for moving forward. If you're interested in learning more about theopportunities we are seeing in CoreAlign's future, we have attached a concept note that digs deeper into the possibilities ahead at The New School and beyond.

In saying “Yes, and…” to The New School, both CoreAlign and I are poised to explore and realize many exciting and unimagined possibilities that could lead to smarter, more effective work; more resources and more influence. If we had not been practicing this improvisational stance for a while, we would not have leaned into this potentially transformative, disruptive and exciting moment. We are collectively thrilled with this new direction and are madly dreaming about the new possibilities. Yes, CoreAlign is going to change again in a BIG way, and we hope you will continue to partner with us on this journey.


[1] Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and a calendar of lectures, screenings, readings and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence. Learn more at newschool.edu.