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


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.

When did we lose our urge to play?

I am currently working with a client who is part of a small team. They have engaged me to create a space where they can explore the way they work together. Their hope is to become more innovative and collaborative across the team. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

In recent conversations I sensed a palpable aversion to playing games. They have been burned in the past by consultants using games that made them uncomfortable. I have probably been guilty of this myself in the past. But for me it begs a broader question … When did we lose our urge to play? More importantly, how do we recapture our natural instinct to move, laugh and work together in new ways?

I’ll be taking a leaf of courage from the AIN Community and apply improv more in 2012.

Geoff Brown

What’s at the heart of applied improv?

This morning I tweeted an article that was shared on Facebook (no, this isn’t a post about social media). This one: Improvisation May Be the Key to Successfully Managing Change, says MIT It seemed to generate a lot of interest.

Applied improv gets me excited like nothing else. I think it’s important to take notice of such feelings and see where it leads. In this case, it’s led to me trying to work out why applied improv has this effect.

My work as a facilitator with groups falls into three broad categories:

  • planning, designing, clarifying what we do, and how we do it; what helps, and what hinders
  • something’s wrong and we’re not sure what – this often turns up as a request for team building
  • capacity building: we need to be better at creativity, innovation, responding, change, presentations,customer service etc

I’ll use a range of processes and tools, and they’ll differ in every workshops. I have a ‘kit bag’ full of activities, questions, processes, games, ideas etc, yet none of them are worth anything much without empathy for the people I’m working with. And while every workshop is different, what’s consistent is that the people in every workshop are living, breathing humans. Their circumstances may vary, their backgrounds, their languages and their culture. They still live and breathe and love, hurt and cry, the same as you and me.

Improvisation and spontaneity touch us all  – we are improvisational by nature, tapping into our emotions and feelings, our experiences, our stories, our relationships with ourselves and others, they way we behave. This is what I think is fundamentally at the heart of working with groups.

Yet we often block that part of ourselves, talking ourselves into being rational, focused, planned and in control. I’d love that as much as the next person. Trouble is, it’s a fantasy. Something always comes up. And we keep on going, we do what has to be done in whatever circumstances we find ourselves and with whatever resources we have. We improvise.

Rediscovering this natural approach to how we are is at the heart of why I’m excited about applied improv. Bringing improv back to schools and education, in government and policy making, in businesses that are thriving and those who are struggling, in the health sector, in humanitarian aid and on-line – in any industry or situation, we can do in life what improvisors do on the stage.

And what better stage is there than life?

(Re-posted from Beyond the Edge)

More minds = opening up

We sat around a table at Hub Melbourne this morning to talk about an Applied Improv Conference for Melbourne next year. Thanks to Ian David from Melbourne Playback Theatre Company, Andrew Rixon from Babelfish Group and Sascha Rixon from Melbourne Uni for showing up – and also to all of you who couldn’t be there in person and sent good vibes anyway.

We talked about how an applied improv conference might differ from an improv conference – relevant because the week before this event, improvisors and performers from across Australia and the world will gather in chilly, warm-hearted Canberra for Improvention – a festival of improv workshops, performances and much more, for improvisors, by improvisors.

We also talked about how this Regional AIN (Applied Improvisation Network) Conference might differ from those hosted in Europe and North America (next year’s world AIN Conference will be in San Francisco 20 – 23 September). After all, we’re about building on offers, moving the action forward and making our partners look good!

I’ve said elsewhere on this site that applied improv is about taking improv out of the theatre and into the world. We reinforced, and built, on that idea by exploring that an improv conference is not targeted at improvisors/performers per se – the target audience are those people who could benefit from improvisation principles and application in their work: accountants, lawyers, social entrepreneurs, those working in health and education, businesses.

Applied improv is about filling the creativity gap, learning how to develop relationships with clients and co-workers (especially in industries that are very procedures focused), confidence and skills in being in front of an audience, enhancing communication and building agility to respond in the face of uncertainty. And creating a thirst for more – to learn more about improvisation, and all its applications.

What do you think?

I’ll be contacting some people who could be draw cards to such audiences. I’ll be putting together a business case to try and attract a partnering organisation. And I’ll be taking a big breath, before showing up, letting go and and jumping in.

If you have any suggestions or comments please email me viv at mcwaters dot com dot au or leave a comment below.

Proposed dates: Thursday 12th and Friday 13th July 2012

Oh, and we also threw about ideas for a name:

  • Improv Transfer
  • Spontaneous and Able
  • Notice. Create. Commit.