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.”



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).

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.