From the CEO: The benefit of saying "yes, and" | An AME International Conference update

AME | May 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. But when we maintain our continuous improvement mindset, we recognize the opportunities to adjust and adapt to our current situation.

On a Champions Club call this week, Marc Kuzik from Argus Machine mentioned that his company has adopted a “yes, and” mindset instead of a “no, but” mentality. The concept of “yes, and” versus “no, but” comes from improv performances. “Yes, and” is the idea that, to move things forward in a scene, you must accept the information you’re presented with and add to it. If you say “no, but,” you will stunt the scene’s progress and stop further development.

In 2006, Stephen Colbert talked about this concept in his commencement address at Knox College, concluding that, “[S]aying ‘yes’ begins things. Saying ‘yes’ is how things grow. Saying ‘yes’ leads to knowledge.”

It is an admirable mindset that aligns closely with lean. We see a situation and we adapt to it and we make it better. It can be difficult during the stresses and uncertainty of a pandemic to maintain this mindset, but you and your organizations will be better for it.

At AME, the pandemic has caused uncertainty for the 36th annual International Conference – our largest event of the year. Fortunately, we have a fantastic conference committee that has said “yes, and” to the situation. Together with the committee of volunteers and AME staff is working to improvise a new future, which may allow us to open the conference and its wonderful content to even more people.

Let me be clear, we fully expect to offer conference programming this year. Since 1985, we have hosted the world’s largest lean conference – without fail – each year. We know, however, that it may look different this time around. We have a team of event experts, lean practitioners, and long-time AME volunteers looking at how we can best serve you by offering virtual learning opportunities with our presenters, speakers, and tour hosts. We are considering all our options. The 2020 International Conference may be a hybrid mix of in-person and virtual content or a completely virtual experience.

We know that the AME International Conference is a valued event that inspires participants to share, learn and grow until the next year’s conference. You hear from industry leaders, you network with fellow practitioners, you learn in interactive workshops, and you see best practices at tour sites. We are working hard to preserve these valuable elements to help you, your organization, and our economy recover from the pandemic.

We expect to communicate full details of these plans on or before July 15. In the meantime, please know that we fully expect the AME International Conference to happen as planned. Until the details are finalized, please remember that AME is here to support you with virtual events. We’re adding webinars, discussions, and virtual experiences to our website each week at

With that being said, I am excited to unveil our AME Toronto 2020 preview video below:


On behalf of my team, the AME board, and our hundreds of volunteers, please let me know if there’s anything we can do to help you and your organization.

And as always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.