Viral improv


October 11th, 2011

There’s a great little activity I saw at Gathering11. Say you have half a dozen messages you want to spread amongst the audience. Secretly give one message to six people and ask them to whisper the message to someone in the audience with a request to pass it on. Pretty soon, everyone is sharing these messages. And connecting. And you’ve avoided the one-to-many approach for a simple distributed approach.

Last week I had a chance to reconnect with improv (improvised theatre), movement, play and other people – physically and emotionally, thanks to Andrew Rixon’s Story Conference.  I think we’re hungry for this. I know I am. Johnnie describes it well: The stuff we’ve been doing lately has been short on clever words and analysis and long on play, movement, and experimentation.

Yeah.

Today I attended a CPX meeting in Melbourne where Professor Mike Askew was exploring improv wisdom. It was a great start to the day (despite the 5 am start to get to Melbourne in time). Across town, Johnnie was doing similar stuff with some knowledge management folk at the ACTKM conference.

I noticed the buzz in the room, the smiling faces, the energy, some puzzlement, and how the 90 minutes seemed to fly by. Afterwards, some of us met for coffee and conversation. Inevitably, the question of how to sell improv to businesses came up. I’m fond of saying that talking about improv makes little sense – it’s a doing thing. And the best way to get people interested is to get them to taste improv, to experience the power of  having offers accepted, to see others making them look good, to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be okay making goofy noises and to celebrate mistakes, shake them off and try again.

It really is a shame to simply bring our brains to work when there’s so much more information available to us from using our whole bodies.

The secret is out: improv can transform the way we work. Pass it on.

Johnnie and I will be playing and sharing the gifts from improv theatre with the willing – knowing that the energy will be catching and gradually spread. This is how we get improv into businesses (or anywhere for that matter) – by being improvisors, playfully sharing the gifts and being unapologetic about the joy, the laughter and the stimulation that improv provides.

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