#coachlearninginsport Moving from 'No … But' to 'If … Then' and on to 'Yes … And'

I was struck by the introductory paragraph in an Esko Kilpi discussion of pattern recognition.
Esko argued:

The way we want to make sense of the world around us often has to do with causality. The question we ask is what caused “something” to happen. There is a variable, the “it,” that happened, that is now to be explained. In scientific study this variable is regarded as dependent. An independent variable, or variables, that cause it are then sought. This is also the if-then model of management. (My emphasis).

He followed up with this paragraph:

Emergence is often understood as things which just happen and there is nothing we can do about it. But emergence means the exact opposite. The patterns that emerge do so precisely because of what everybody is doing, and not doing. It is what many, many local interactions produce. This is in effect what self-organization means. Each of us is forming plans and making decisions about our next steps all the time. “What each of us does affects others and what they do affects each of us.”

By good fortune, I had an opportunity to talk with a colleague about Esko’s post and my interest in using creative, actionable insights to help with ‘If … Then’ game playing opportunities. My colleague has had a long career in the theatre.
We started talking about improvisation and the opportunities for ‘Yes … And‘ relationships.
‘Yes’ is an acceptance of another’s contribution, ‘And’ is our creative response to it. I take this to be at the heart of of Esko’s discussion of the self-organisation of local interactions.
Mark Upton provides a fascinating example of this self-organisation in his discussion of playfulness.
I take the ‘No … But’ part of the title to be characteristic of an instruction where behaviour is constrained. Perhaps it is the start of our teaching and coaching journeys where we feel obliged to share content and prescription.
I am meeting a group of rugby union coaches this weekend and I hope to raise ‘Yes … And’ ideas with them. I think I might start with this sentence:

The patterns that emerge do so precisely because of what everybody is doing, and not doing.

… particularly the ‘not doing’ part. And then use this segment of play from forty-three years ago to trigger conversation.

Photo Credit

Improvise (Andrew, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


  1. Great insight that you have shared. I had a brief discussion recently with Mr Upton where I raised what I thought the value of Bayesian Theorem meant to understanding these interactions that you have mentioned.
    The example you provided from Esko is how Bayes Theorem helps us to relate to our own certainty or uncertainty of events, where-as the ‘no-but’ is more aligned to Frequentist where if the “it” that happened doesn’t fit ‘our’ fixed model parameters?
    I am still trying to differentiate between Bayesian and frequentist analysis and based on your experiences I would dearly love to hear opinion?


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