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Contributing Is Like Improv

I have always been an avid reader. Even now with a 6-month old I manage to find time to read, and it helps me keep my sanity in these busy times!

I was recently reading Tina Fey’s autobiography Bossypants(a great laugh!) and an interesting section about improvisational theatre made me notice the similarities between improv and community contribution.


Tina Fey lists the following rules of improvisation and I’ve added my translation for the SAP Community Network:



Agree and Say “Yes”:

When you’re on stage improvising with a fellow actor, always agree and say yes. In improvisational theatre, this means ‘respect what your partner has created and start from an open-minded place’.

In SCN, this means be polite and open to different opinions, respect the rules of engagement.


Say “Yes, And”:

When improvising, you are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. Otherwise be ready for an awkward silence on stage.

In SCN, this means become a member of SCN and contribute. Reading and learning on SCN is fine, but share what you’ve learned as well: add your perspective and experience by contributing in blog posts, forum messages, documents, or in the wiki. Ms Fey also says ‘”Yes, And” means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.’

How true!


There are no mistakes, only opportunities:

If your improv buddy goes in another direction than expected, just go with it. ‘There are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.’

This is true for SCN as well. Newcomers are welcome and we’re working to make them feel even more welcome in the future, giving them the opportunity to explore and – yes, maybe – make mistakes. Sorry – have beautiful happy accidents.

If you didn’t respect the rules of engagement once and a Moderator brings you back to the right path, just apologize and learn from it. Next time you’ll be better.

If someone comments to your blog by adding another perspective and you feel it is criticism, think again and see that as an opportunity to learn. Thank the commenter and connect with him/her to start a new relationship of learning and mentoring! One day you will do the same for another member of SCN.

OK… Maybe you’ve cheated to get more points. In that case you will get caught and sanctions will follow. There is an exception to every rule 😉

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    • Thank you Tammy!
      Yes, you are one of our most prolific writers! And humble!
      It’s the same for me. If I have one resolution for the new year, it will be to blog more often. I usually don’t make resolutions 😉
  • First I agree with Tammy…  Welcome back.

    Second – I usually have opinions.  Lots of them.  I also usually write them in a reply to a blog post.

    I am fond of using BUT…  Sometimes I disagree – so the “yes and” is not there. 

    YES, I disagree, but only slightly this time.   I think instead of yes, and..  You can use “but” in your replies.  I think that is a nice way to start a healthy debate.  (If possible.  Sometimes, there is no replies.  Sadly.)

    Now here is where I agree.  Yes, and..  I think the “but” comment should be constructive instead of argumentative.  Does that mean I always get that part right?  Of course not.  So I agree that sometimes the blog writer should take a second before replying or worrying too much about the comments.  Remember if people are commenting they are reading!  They are thinking.  And that is what you intend to do.

    Great blog – great way to get me thinking in the morning,


    • Hello Michelle,

      Thank you, I am very happy to be back!
      I think a “yes but” is also a “yes and”, because even if it’s debating, it’s bringing the conversation further. “and” doesn’t necessarily mean “I’m going in the same direction as you” in the improv world. You can start your improv with a sentence, and your improv “partner in crime” continues with something crazy and you have to shift direction drastically. Not that I’m an expert in improv theater – Marilyn would probably be one!
      So we could include “yes but” in the “yes and” paragraph if you see what I mean. It’s true that this is how it is in our community. I love seeing debates and I think some content warrants debate more than other, which makes it even more interesting.
      I agree about your last comment: Yes everyone should take a second to think things through and respond to comments and feedback. I think those who are quick to answer (me too sometimes!) are just unsure and they just need to be encouraged. Which is something you do very well Michelle. Thank you!


  • I think sharing in an online community is better than improv because we get a chance to reflect on and absorb what the blogger and commenters are suggesting. In my opinion, it creates better idea generation and there’s unlimited ‘piggybacking’ off ideas!
    Thanks for sharing!
    • Hello Tanya,

      I always like to see new names commenting on my content. Thank you!
      Wow, better than improv? You’re right, we have the luxury of time: we can think things through without the pressure of an audience, we can connect “offline”, etc. We have it better and funnier 😉

      Thanks for adding your thoughts,