Chuck Jones is a creative genius who towers over American popular culture. Best known as the director of Looney Toons shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd, he knew a thing or two about creative process.
In his autobiography, Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, the creator of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote describes a process he and his Warner Brothers colleagues used as an alternative to brainstorming. The “yes” session is designed to explore the potential within nascent ideas.
According to Jones, “The ‘yes’ session imposes only one discipline: the abolition of the word ‘no.'” Jones clearly disdained naysayers. “Anyone can say ‘no’… It is a cheap word because it requires no explanation, and many men and women have acquired a reputation for intelligence who know only this word and have used it in place of thought on every occasion.”
In a “yes” session, anything goes, but only if it is “positive, supportive and affirmative to the premise.” No negatives are allowed. “All roadblocks impeding the advancement and exploration of the value of an idea are forbidden.”
If you need evidence of the effectiveness of a “yes” session, treat yourself to seven minutes of Jones’ brilliance in this hilarious parody of Rossini’sThe Barber of Seville, starring Bugs and Elmer Fudd.
The next time you or your colleagues are problem solving, try the “yes” session. Before you say “No,” say “Yes!” to a new idea — and in as many ways as possible. Like Edward DeBono’s PMI technique discussed in a previous post, the “yes” session ensures that feedback does not kill ideas but enlivens them; results not in the pain of rejection but the thrill of creation.