On December 16th Arts Interstices hosted a conversation via Google Hangouts among dance and theater improv artists and Agilists from various parts of the US. The following is a briefing on some essential themes this cross-sector dialogue uncovered regarding the serious interest business is taking today in this art form.
People feel threatened when choices are unduly restricted. With a narrow set of options, positions become entrenched and even the simplest conversation become difficult. Saying “Yes, And…” (rather than “Yes, but..”) is widely acknowledged to be the first guideline of improv. Experienced practitioners emphasize building upon the contributions others have already made, creating an expanded sense of possibility.
“Make Your Partner Look Good”
Imagine going into a meeting with a bad set of nerves anticipating critical scrutiny. Now imagine going in alongside a colleague, shifting your focus to a total dedication to making that person shine as the most brilliant mind on earth. Sea Tea Improv recommends practicing this kind of mutual support as a way to instill trust quickly and powerfully.
Improvisational scenes progress iteratively. Starting with mundane circumstances and then taking the audience along on a journey by adjusting their expectations step by step is conducive to fantastic results.
One of the steps towards relaxing in a group is seeing oneself in others. That spark of recognition can be induced through the act of mirroring, used as an icebreaker in Annie Sailer’s movement exercises.
Knowledge workers have few conscious opportunities to read each other and respond nonverbally. Even though these exchanges happen all the time at work, improvisational movement renders them intentional, slowing down the sequence of sensing, perceiving and choosing how to engage.
Robie Wood led this workshop at the Paris Scrum gathering in September 2013 with his brother Jody Wood, a deeply experienced improv actor. The description in the program reads: How can we positively charge and orient Scrum Team members toward effective participation in the conversations, activities and innovation necessary to deliver business value? Let’s get team members to Harmonize. To maintain team Harmony, we can draw on examples from the Arts where Harmony is sustained by using improvisation to adapt to changing complexity. The “Scrum Team that Harmonizes” workshop employs improvisation exercises from the Acting world that are designed to work on the specific skills needed by team members to perform effectively in each of the four types of Scrum Meetings.
Robie will host the next Hangout scheduled for later this month, and we’ll include international participants. Further exchange will advance the dialogue and lay groundwork for intelligence-gathering and sharing of effective practices for how improv is being used today in business settings. Practitioners can plug into this conversation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION
Sea Tea Improv http://seateaimprov.com/
Annie Sailer Dance Company http://anniesailer.com/d-a-n-c-e/statement
JW Actor’s Studio http://www.jwactorstudio.com/