That’s a wrap!

So AIN Downunder: Thriving In Uncertainty is all over. Thanks to everyone who showed up. Thanks especially to all the people who donated their time and expertise to share with us all – your enthusiasm and experience in all things improv and applied was amazing.

There were so many highlights for me I can’t even begin to list them, maybe you’d like to add your highlight to the comments below?

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company was a fantastic partner. Such a talented bunch.

And I loved the Impro Expo too – four great performances on the one stage. And all demonstrating different styles of improv.

I feel humbled at the generosity of everyone, and a little bit relieved it’s all over. And excited to try some new things, and glad to have finally met you all.

Cheers, Viv


One week to go!

Hard to believe that this time next week we’ll be getting ready to welcome you to AIN Downunder: Thriving In Uncertainty. Excitement building. This week I’m at Improvention in Canberra. This is for hard-core improvisers, and I’m learning lots. And I’m seeing some of our workshop leaders in action. They are amazingly talented and generous – Jill BernardCindy TonkinNick ByrneJohnnie Moore and Patti Stiles are here, and coming to Melbourne next week.

Here’s a quote from Jill Bernard, who will be conducting a workshop next Thursday called The Fireball Theory: Huge Ideas on Demand.

“I would like to make people feel that they are enough.”


The countdown begins: one month to go

It’s now just one month until the very first, inaugural Applied Improv Network Regional Conference : Thriving In Uncertainty. Are you coming? We have a great bunch of people from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, UK and the USA coming. Check out the various tickets for the conference here.

And bring your friends to the Impro Expo on Thursday 12th July 5 – 7 pm (it’s only $25 a ticket) where you’ll see four first class improv groups/performers on the same stage. Is this another first for Melbourne?

What is your learning edge?

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

Kurt Vonnegut

We now know it’s not enough to just bring our brains to work. The difficult issues we’re asked to explore require us to access and apply our whole intelligence to problem-solving, creativity and innovation,
especially in the face of global and local social and environmental issues.

And it can be hard work. Which is why I spend a lot of time just trying to keep up, and developing my own skills and capacities. These days, it’s not so much learning new processes – that I can do easily, by talking with colleagues and chasing up information on line. What I can’t learn so easily is how to be responsive, compassionate, and to take risks. This takes something else – presence, awareness and a willingness to go to my edge.

I’ve started a little business with three colleagues in the UK called Edges of Work and we’ve been exploring what it means to go to our edge – or to encourage others to their edge. There seems to be three parts to this:

First, people will go to their edge more willingly if they feel they’re in the right company – with people who can support as well as provoke them.

Second, we think there is a sweet spot. It’s when there is enough challenge to create excitement and curiosity – but not so much that people lose control of their bladders or feel dragged somewhere they
don’t want to go.

Third, it’s about being adventurous  and creative in the activities used. A lot of our work is inspired by art, theatre, improvisation and other ways of working that get beyond just talking and thinking.

The thing is, it’s hard to go to your edge alone. Which is part of the thinking behind convening a gathering of people willing to explore our learning edge together. If you’d like to join me and about 35 others from diverse backgrounds exploring our edges, better register now (especially as early bird registration closes on May 1st).

Attracting business to applied improv

ImageWhen I mention to friends that I’m organising a conference, they’re interested – until I mention applied improv. And then their eyes glaze over (unless of course they are already improvvy types, and then they get over-excited!)

My point is that applied improv doesn’t seem to be a term that business people can relate to. I’ve started talking about thriving in uncertainty. That seems to get people’s attention. So I’ve created a companion website. It says much the same thing but with a slightly different emphasis.

Feel free to share the love.

How businesses, organisations and communities can thrive in uncertainty

The ability to improvise is a new edge in organisational effectiveness and leadership. 

Join improvisation experts and business innovators from Australia and overseas to learn the secrets of improvisation and how to apply these techniques to your business or organisation. 

No acting skill whatsoever is required. A willingness to try new ideas and challenge convention will be richly rewarded.

Applied improvisation is a key driver for business success during times of uncertainty and change. Today’s successful workplace uses new approaches and thinking, and its people have the ability to develop and maintain relationships, are creative with limited resources, create new stories for our future, successfully collaborate, and are agile and responsive. 

It’s not enough to just bring our brains to work. We need to access and apply our whole intelligence to problem-solving, creativity and innovation, especially in the face of global and local social and environmental issues.

The skills, techniques and principles that enable improvisors to work together on the stage to create a performance without a script are easily learned and can be adapted for most business situations. Improvisation could give you and your business or organisation the edge you’re looking for.

This event is for leaders, executives and managers, entrepeneurs, learning and development facilitators, trainers and educators, OD and HR practitioners, consultants, coaches and anyone who wants to bring more spontaneity, creativity, agilty and playfulness to their work or practice, for themselves and others.

We’ll offer you an experience to remember – and importantly, lots of ideas and tools to use. You’ll play, discover, learn, connect, be challenged and inspired.

This two-day event, hosted by Beyond the Edge, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company and the Applied Improvisation Network, will be held in Richmond, Melbourne at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel on July 12th and 13th, 2012. 


Examples of improv in business

It’s no surprise – learning the practices of improvisation, has transformed the way I work, the way I facilitate, the way I relate to others, my outlook and my approach. Big claims? You bet.

The internet enables us to find others who share this passion for improv. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we can find others who share this belief that improv is a fundamental skill for navigating the uncertainty of the world, and a curse because it may lull us into a believing that improv is now mainstream is business. Not yet. Definitely not yet. Using improv in business settings is still at the edge.

So I’m delighted to find this selection of essays about improv in business compiled by Ian Gotts and John Cremer. It is a cracker. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, and why you should consider improv – in any context – it’s worth a read. Lots of examples and case studies and different applications of improv.

And if you’d like to explore applied improv – or improv in business, communities and organisations – closer to home (if home is Australia ofc), early bird registration is now open for AIN Downunder, right here in Melbourne , July 12 & 13. More information right here on this website.

April 1st – Lock it in, Eddie.

April 1st is an easy date to remember. April Fool’s Day.

According to that modern fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, “The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392).”

Then there’s the 1986 movie April Fool’s Day where a group of nine college students staying at a friend’s remote island mansion begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool’s day weekend. And the 2008 video where a year after an April Fool’s Day prank which resulted in the death of one of their set, a group of friends find themselves targeted by someone who is out for revenge. Neither sound very foolish to me.

I’m sure you have your own April Fool’s Day story.

You can also read about the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of all time.

And in late breaking news…(drum roll please)…it’s also marks the first ever Incredibubble Festival “A festival of happiness for the kid in everyone” .oO by the amazing @DrFroth.

This year – 2012 – the day has added significance. It’s the closing date for early-bird registration for AIN Downunder. You’ve been warned.

Make your partner look good

This is one my favourite improv principles. It’s just so obvious – focus on making others look good. It’s about shifting the focus from yourself to others, and being concerned more about the overall outcome – whether that’s a performance, a workshop, a show, a presentation, or a conference 🙂

Speaking of conferences, it’s the last three days for super early bird registration for AIN Downunder. You can help make the conference look good by showing up and making us all look good! Go here to register.

It’s gonna be amazing!