Practicing The Art of Continual Change Using Improvisational Theatre Skills


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A presentation of business improvisation content explored interactively through customized workshops prepared and presented by PS: RESEARCH! and Consulting

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Practicing The Art of Continual Change Using Improvisational Theatre Skills

  1. 1. Practicing The Art of Continual Change<br />Using<br />Improvisational Theatre Skills<br />Kirk Bridgman, M.B.A.<br />
  2. 2. We are living in some of the most challenging and rapidly changing times many of us have ever seen<br /> War <br />Terrorism <br />Instability of the economy <br /> Acceleration of technological change <br /> The recent surge of unethical business practices<br />
  3. 3. To succeed in this climate requires us to take individual and collective actions which are<br />Quick <br /> Decisive <br /> Adaptive <br />Yet it’s human nature to resist change and fear uncertainty<br />
  4. 4. How can we best prepare to think, act and COMMUNICATE<br /> in this fast paced and unpredictable world?<br />“The techniques of improvisational theatre are the techniques of communicating.”<br />Viola Spolin, “Improvisation for the Theatre”<br />
  5. 5. Improvisation is arguably humanity's oldest skill and it gives us the capacity to experiment, take new actions and generate new ideas. <br />“Life is like improv. You do not know where you are going, just where you have been.”Kat Koppett, “Training to Imagine”<br />Think about the last time you did not know what to do or your team was stuck for answers. What did you do? You improvised. You thought creatively, stepped outside of your conditioned patterns and asked different questions.<br />
  6. 6. The Tasks of an Improvisational Actor are to:<br /><ul><li>Accurately access the needs of a current situation
  7. 7. Take action to address relevant issues
  8. 8. Continually move forward in a positive new direction
  9. 9. Work with one’s intuition towards useful results
  10. 10. Operate clearly in chaotic situations
  11. 11. Take risks
  12. 12. See delight in the “new”</li></ul>Sound Familiar!<br />
  13. 13. "Improvisation is probably one of the two or three cardinal skills for businesses to learn in the future." <br />John Kao, <br />Harvard Business School<br />Learning the skills of Improvisational Theatre can help individuals and teams to better: <br />Embrace uncertainty<br /> Exploit opportunities for change<br /> Respond appropriately, in the moment, at the top of their intelligence <br />
  14. 14. As with almost everything, theatre improv has some rules <br />Three #1 Rules of Improvisation<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  15. 15. Do it, Don’t Censor<br /><ul><li>Censoring = resisting impulses
  16. 16. We are taught from earliest years to resist our impulses
  17. 17. Learning to identify and follow an impulse fosters creativity</li></li></ul><li>Make Others Look Good<br /><ul><li>Concentrate on others rather than yourself
  18. 18. Take responsibility for both yourself and others
  19. 19. Making others look good makes everyone look good </li></li></ul><li>Respond with YES AND<br />Rather than<br /> BUT<br />BUT is a way of saying no – a verbal eraser – whereas AND allows people to accept and build on what others are offering<br />
  20. 20. “There are people who prefer to say YES AND, and there are people who prefer to say NO BUT. <br />Those who say YES are rewarded by the adventures they have. <br />Those who say NO are rewarded by the safety they attain.”<br />Keith Johnstone<br /> “Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre”<br />
  21. 21. 10 Top Reasons We Are So Quick to Say NOBUT<br /><ul><li>Saying “yes” requires action
  22. 22. Someone else might get more credit than us
  23. 23. We don’t like the person who made the offer
  24. 24. Contradicting or debating makes us feel smart
  25. 25. We think anoffer is “bad”
  26. 26. We take too much “ownership” of our own offer
  27. 27. We don’t take time to understand other offers
  28. 28. An offer feels risky, silly or unoriginal
  29. 29. We think that conflict is exciting
  30. 30. We don’t recognize that an OFFER has even been made</li></li></ul><li>So What is an Offer?<br /> An offer, in improv terminology, is anything that can be perceived and subsequently either accepted, rejected or ignored, be it:<br />Verbal<br /> Physical<br /> Conceptual<br /> Emotional<br />
  31. 31. An Improv Example<br />An actor walks into a scene, fumbles with the door and says, “Hi, honey, I’m home.”<br />What are the offers? <br /><ul><li>Words – The actor labeled the scene as “home,” and called another actor “honey”
  32. 32. Tone of voice – How did the actor sound; happy, sad, tired, frustrated, triumphant, casual?
  33. 33. Props – Was the actor carrying anything; grocery bags, a pet, a briefcase, a newspaper, maybe even a knife?
  34. 34. Fumbling with door – What could that mean?
  35. 35. General physical demeanor – How was the actor walking; forthright, stumbling, casually, fast paced?</li></ul> All of these are offers<br />
  36. 36. Improv Skills Building Blocks <br />Trust<br />Storytelling<br />Spontaneity<br />Status<br />Yes And<br />Listening and Awareness<br />
  37. 37. What is Trust?<br />(credibility) (intimacy)<br />TRUSTf risk<br />Trust exists when the perceived degree of credibility and intimacy inherent in an encounter exceeds the perceived risk involved with that same encounter<br />
  38. 38. Credibility – a sense of:<br />Trustworthiness<br />Reliability<br />Reputation<br />Integrity<br />Sincerity<br />Confidence<br />Certainty<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  39. 39. Intimacy – a sense of:<br />Familiarity<br />Closeness<br />Empathy<br />Awareness<br />Understanding<br />Informality<br />Relationship<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  40. 40. Risk – a sense of:<br />DANGER<br />POSSIBILITY<br />Chance<br />Jeopardy<br />Hazard<br />Attempt<br />Venture<br />Threat<br />FEAR<br />OPPORTUNITY<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  41. 41. (credibility) (intimacy)<br />TRUSTf risk<br />Build trust by increasing credibility and intimacy while at the same time decreasing negative risk by shifting the perception of risk from DANGER and FEAR to POSSIBILITY and OPPORTUNITY.<br />Practice the Three #1 Rules of Improvisation<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  42. 42. Spontaneity<br />“The moment of personal freedom when we are faced with a reality and see it, explore it, and act accordingly.” Viola Spolin<br />
  43. 43. Spontaneity = Following Impulses<br />Desire<br />Urge<br />Signal<br />Compulsion<br />Whim<br />Drive<br />Inclination<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  44. 44. Perception of Negative Risk = <br />Danger<br /> Jeopardy<br /> Threat<br /> Fear<br />I might fail<br />I might be wrong<br />I might seem foolish<br />I might look stupid<br />I might be rejected<br />
  45. 45. The greater the perception of negative risk (danger), the less likely one is to follow impulses and be spontaneous <br />Negative Risk = Calculated Interaction<br />
  46. 46. Encourage Positive Risk Taking<br />Seeing Possibility<br />Taking a Chance<br />Making the Attempt<br />Venturing into the Unknown<br />Exploring Opportunities<br />
  47. 47. Explore Impulses<br />Play the Fool<br />Be Obvious<br />Have Fun<br />Celebrate Failures<br />Ask What-If<br />
  48. 48. Practice the Three #1 Rules of Improvisation<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />Make Others Look Good<br />Respond with YES AND<br />
  49. 49. Listening and Awareness<br />“Before any offer can be accepted, it must be recognized. . . <br />There is so much information bombarding us in a given moment that to make sense of it, we blot out and distort the data. <br />We make choices about what to focus on.”Kat Koppett<br /> “Training to Imagine.”<br />
  50. 50. Remember the Story Exchange Game<br /><ul><li>Everyone sits in a circle
  51. 51. First person whispers a short story to the person next to them
  52. 52. That person repeats the same story as heard to the next person
  53. 53. So on and so on until the story is passed around the circle
  54. 54. The final story is usually VERY different than the original</li></ul>Why is that?<br />
  55. 55. Each time the story is told, the storyteller is making offers:<br /><ul><li> Actual words of the story
  56. 56. Tone of voice of the storyteller
  57. 57. Emotional involvement of the storyteller
  58. 58. Any physical gestures made by the storyteller</li></ul>Each person hearing the story is bombarded with offers, which are either:<br /><ul><li> Accepted
  59. 59. Ignored
  60. 60. Rejected</li></ul>Only offers which have been accepted are passed along<br />
  61. 61. How to ensure the final story is more like the original <br />Practice the Three #1 Rules of Improvisation<br />Do it, Don’t Censor<br />As a listener, don’t censor an offer – that’s rejecting it<br />Make Others Look Good<br />As a storyteller, make it easy for others by keeping the offers big, bold and simple – that makes it less likely that important offers will be ignored<br />Respond with YES AND<br />As a listener, respond to offers with YES AND – that’s accepting it<br />
  62. 62. Yes And<br />Consider this interchange<br />I say: <br />“What if there was a button on the side of the cell phone and when you push the button the phone grows in size?”<br />And you say:<br />“BUT that’s not practical. There is no way to have components grow is size.”<br />What happened here?<br /><ul><li> You rejected my offer
  63. 63. You made it hard for me to comment without conflict
  64. 64. You basically ended the interchange</li></li></ul><li>Yes And<br />Consider this alternate interchange<br />I say: <br />“What if there was a button on the side of the cell phone and when you push the button the phone grows in size?”<br />And you say:<br />“YES, I often feel my cell phone is just too darn small, AND I would love to be able to read my text messages without putting on my glasses.”<br />What happened here?<br /><ul><li> You accepted my offer
  65. 65. You provided new information I can respond to
  66. 66. You created opportunity to extend the interchange</li></li></ul><li>YES<br />I say: <br />“Hi Honey, I’m home.”<br />Honey (accepting my verbal offer) says:<br />“Hi dear, glad you’re home.”<br />By only accepting an offer (YES) but not adding anything to the offer (AND), progress in the interaction is limited <br />
  67. 67. YES<br />AND<br />I say: <br />“Hi Honey, I’m home.”<br />Honey (accepting my verbal offer) says:<br />“Hi dear, glad you’re home.”<br />Honey (picking up on another offer) adds:<br />“ You sound tired. It must have been a hard day at work”<br />By not only accepting an offer (YES), but adding to an offer (AND) the progress of the interaction is expanded<br />
  68. 68. Storytelling<br />“A story is a promissory note for a conversation.”<br />Alistair Cockburn <br />When we are told a story, or tell a story, we engage much more of ourselves than we do when we are presented with mere facts:<br /><ul><li> Our emotions are triggered
  69. 69. Associations are stimulated
  70. 70. Memories are activated.</li></li></ul><li>Story Structure<br /><ul><li>Virtually all successful stories (at least in Western Culture)possess similar structure. We can relate to them easily
  71. 71. The structure is apparent either explicitly (it’s right in front of our nose) or implicitly (we use our imaginations)
  72. 72. Platform
  73. 73. Once upon a time
  74. 74. Everyday
  75. 75. Catalyst
  76. 76. But one day
  77. 77. Heart of the Story
  78. 78. Because of that
  79. 79. Climax
  80. 80. Finally
  81. 81. Resolution
  82. 82. And ever since then</li></li></ul><li>Platform<br />Once upon a time<br />in the same city, there were two prominent families<br />Everyday<br />the families feuded, fought, and killed each other’s members<br />
  83. 83. Catalyst<br />But one day<br />the son of one of the families crashed the birthday party of the other families daughter.<br />
  84. 84. Heart of the Story<br />Because of that<br /><ul><li>The son and daughter fell in love
  85. 85. They secretly married
  86. 86. The son wanted the killing to stop
  87. 87. He stepped into the middle of a fight and inadvertently caused the death of his best friend
  88. 88. In agony and rage, he killed the killer, his wife’s cousin</li></ul>And then<br />
  89. 89. Heart of the Story<br />Because of that<br /><ul><li>He was banished
  90. 90. The lovers needed to employ a complicated plan to be reunited
  91. 91. The complicated plan depended on other people, and communication broke down
  92. 92. The son did not realize that his wife was going to fake her death, and thought she was really dead
  93. 93. He killed himself</li></li></ul><li>Climax<br />Finally<br />the daughter awoke to find her husband dead beside her, and she plunged his knife into her body, just as the members of both families entered the tomb to find their beloved children dead<br />
  94. 94. Resolution<br />And ever since then<br />both families have stopped the nonsensical war between them and have learned to cooperate, live and work happily together<br />
  95. 95. Status<br />The Dynamics of Power<br />
  96. 96. Two Different Kinds of Status<br />Positional (title)<br />Personal<br />
  97. 97. A female lawyer in a suit walks into a singles bar. She has just won a big case for her firm. <br />She is approached at the bar by a taller male co-worker carrying a briefcase. The bar is crowded so he is very close, looking steadily down on her as he congratulates her. <br />Startled, she giggles, avoiding his eyes, and thanks him as her head tilts, her hand goes to her hair, and she then crosses her arms in front of her. <br />He raises his palm between them to stop conversation as he signals the bartender and orders a scotch and a daiquiri.<br />
  98. 98. She glances at him, smiling, but looks immediately back at the bar, her head moving slightly right and left. When his hand comes down, she says, “So, uh, you were, uh, there in court today?” <br />He says, “Yeah, I didn’t think women could handle criminal litigation.” <br />Her head immediately straightens and freezes. Turning toward him, she brings her face closer to his, looking straight into his eyes. “I didn’t think men drank Daiquiris.” <br />What’s happened tothe balance of status?<br />
  99. 99. STATUS<br />What defines personal status<br />Choice of words<br />Tone of voice (emotions/feelings)<br />Actions<br />Clothing<br />Personal props<br />Environment<br />
  100. 100. Four Status States<br />
  101. 101. What Does Status Look Like?<br />Unpleasant High<br />Pleasant High<br />High Status<br />Tend to talk more <br />More likely to interrupt<br />Erect posture<br />Strong eye contact<br />General display of confidence.<br />
  102. 102. What Does Status Look Like?<br />Unpleasant Low<br />Pleasant Low<br />Low Status<br />Makes oneself appear small both physically and vocally<br />Hesitant or halting speech<br />Touching one’s face and hair<br />Trying to make eye contact, but looking away quickly<br />
  103. 103. People accept or confer status through behaviors, based on variables such as:<br />Knowledge<br />Desire for acceptance<br />Positioning / negotiation<br />Cultural / social structures<br />Personal likes and dislikes<br />Personal status is fluid and changes based on the importance of shifting variables<br />
  104. 104. The dynamics of interactions change as status changes<br />If a variation in status is extreme:<br />Those with lower status<br />Feel those with higher status will not empathize with them and may not understand them<br />They do not feel safe and secure<br />Those with higher status<br />Often begin to feel separated and isolated leading to possible hostility towards others and a tendency to shut others out<br />They fail to get important information or advice<br />
  105. 105. Summary<br />To succeed in today’s ever changing world requires that we act quickly, decisively and adaptively<br />The tasks of the improvisational actor are the same as our business and personal life tasks<br />The Three #1 Rules of Improvisation are the same three #1 rules for all successful interaction:<br /><ul><li> Do it, Don’t Censor
  106. 106. Make Others Look Good
  107. 107. Respond with YES AND</li></ul>The skills of improvisational theatre are the same skills we all need to:<br /><ul><li> Embrace Uncertainty
  108. 108. Exploit opportunities for change
  109. 109. Respond appropriately, in the moment, at the top of our intelligence</li></li></ul><li>An End Note<br />This slide presentation can only present static content (see it as basic Business Improv 101). Explaining the process of business improvisation is a little like trying to explain how to ride a bicycle; the actual experience is much more meaningful than any description.<br />Virtually every business function: design and development; sales and marketing; market research; organizational development; and customer service, can be enhanced by adapting theatre improvisation's forceful tools and principles that teach people how to:<br /><ul><li> Build trust and support in teams
  110. 110. Foster better communication
  111. 111. Promote creative and adaptive problem solving
  112. 112. Manage challenges with quick decisive responses
  113. 113. Improve change management</li></ul>If this presentation increases your curiosity as to the potential benefits of theatre improvisation skill building I encourage you to learn more by contacting me. <br />
  114. 114. About The Presenter<br />Moderator Biography & Experience<br />Kirk Bridgman, M.B.A.<br /><br /><br />888-400-7344<br />