Applied Improv

Improv = Tomatoes

My doorbell just rang. Literally, about twenty minutes ago. I was watching the U.S. Open tennis on replay. Here's how years of improv practice has changed me:

My innate response, when I heard the doorbell, was curiosity. In the past, my default mode, when encountering the unexpected, was definitely a contraction.

Anyway, back to the door. It was Jane, a wonderful woman from our drop-in local improv class. In each of her hands was a basket of garden-fresh tomatoes. YUM.

Curiosity tastes way better than contraction. Being open rocks.

PS: Being open doesn't necessarily mean open the door. Being open simply means that you're tuned in. Your instincts and awareness are operating. For example, if you sensed your own true need for solitude, or if you got the hit that it wasn't safe, then saying YES to that data means the door stays shut. Your choice. Being open gives you data, and an awareness of that data gives you choice.

Okay, that's today's bounty report. I've got a garden-fresh tomato to eat. YUM.

Like riding a bike... Giving and Receiving Feedback.

We do a lot of “culture growing” with our clients.  Usually it’s growing a culture of collaboration, or creativity, or support.
We were recently engaged by a client who wanted to grow a culture of easily giving and receiving feedback.  More specifically, horizontally to peers within teams, not to reports down the food-chain.

It was an interesting challenge.  Can improv be a learning tool for giving and receiving feedback?
There were some obvious bridges:  You need trust to give/receive feedback; improv grows trust.  There’s an openness needed to give or receive feedback from a peer;  improv practices being open and receptive.  Improv practices accepting whatever comes your way and working with it (Yes, and...), so it might be a good tool in overcoming initial knee-jerk resistance to receiving feedback.

I guided the participants through a carefully tailored series of applied improv exercises.  After each one we talked about how the skills embedded in the exercises could support giving and receiving feedback."
Talked about….” 

But y’know, to ride a bike, you gotta get on a bike.
So we jumped into some scaffolded exercises where they were actually asking for, and receiving feedback.  It was easy.

What the improv had done was create trust and openness, and subliminally planted the seeds of seeing everything as an “offer” to be accepted and used.  When you can break down barriers, build bridges, and create a shared vision, things get really easy.

AND…  it’s good to remember that if you want to learn to ride a bike, you literally have to get on a bike.  Not just talk about it.