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Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha: Improv, Creativity and Collaboration

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Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha: Improv, Creativity and Collaboration

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Improv is not "stand-up comedy." It's a series of games with rules that offer huge degrees of freedom within a set of constraints. In these games we bring out a lot of basic, quickly understood and communicated rules of culture that are implicit, not explicit. The activities of design (collaboration, creativity, and design research, for starters) have interesting similarities with improv: All have in-the-moment aspects; we learn upon reflection; there's enormous unspoken interaction and there is often an "aha" moment. Design and improv also have important similarities: the need to collaborate and brainstorm, the importance of breakthrough thinking, the balance between process, structure, and unfettered creativity.

Playing with improv can make us more mindful of the power of listening, and can be harnessed to create a more collaborative work culture, as a way to develop one's own creativity, or to help warm up teammates and clients in workshops and design sessions. In this interactive presentation you will learn more about improv, listening, creativity, and how they all connect together to support one another. No iguanas will be harmed.

Improv is not "stand-up comedy." It's a series of games with rules that offer huge degrees of freedom within a set of constraints. In these games we bring out a lot of basic, quickly understood and communicated rules of culture that are implicit, not explicit. The activities of design (collaboration, creativity, and design research, for starters) have interesting similarities with improv: All have in-the-moment aspects; we learn upon reflection; there's enormous unspoken interaction and there is often an "aha" moment. Design and improv also have important similarities: the need to collaborate and brainstorm, the importance of breakthrough thinking, the balance between process, structure, and unfettered creativity.

Playing with improv can make us more mindful of the power of listening, and can be harnessed to create a more collaborative work culture, as a way to develop one's own creativity, or to help warm up teammates and clients in workshops and design sessions. In this interactive presentation you will learn more about improv, listening, creativity, and how they all connect together to support one another. No iguanas will be harmed.

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Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha: Improv, Creativity and Collaboration

  1. 1. Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha Improv, Creativity and Collaboration
  2. 2. Portigal Consulting <ul><li>We help companies discover and act on new </li></ul><ul><li>insights about their customers and themselves </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>In contrast to improv, stand-up is </li></ul><ul><li>Highly scripted </li></ul><ul><li>Rehearsed, with nano-second timing </li></ul>Improv is not stand-up comedy
  4. 4. <ul><li>A highly- constrained performance with several open parameters </li></ul><ul><li>Unscripted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Specifics assigned right before performance starts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Your first idea is often your best idea” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on playfulness over being funny </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I could never do that, because I’m not funny” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can be (at times) funny to watch, but not about trying to be funny </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The funny will come” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Don’t let logic impede your fancy” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cheaper than therapy </li></ul>Improv is...
  5. 5. Improv, Applied <ul><li>Corporate training on collaboration and creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting facilitation/ ideation warm-up </li></ul><ul><li>Informance (from Interval Research) </li></ul><ul><li>Design research questioning tactic </li></ul>At Pixar, when someone suggests an idea, others should respond with “Yes, and ...” They’ve used improv to create the most trusting environment possible where people can screw up
  6. 6. <ul><li>Throwing an idea </li></ul><ul><li>Accepting offers/saying yes </li></ul><ul><li>Trust </li></ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul><ul><li>Setting up the spike </li></ul>Collaboration Chris Miller emphasizes that your task in improv is to make your partner look good
  7. 7. Game: Storytelling Circle
  8. 8. Design Research
  9. 9. <ul><li>Ethnographic interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Video ethnography </li></ul><ul><li>Depth-interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Contextual research </li></ul><ul><li>Home visits </li></ul><ul><li>Experience modeling </li></ul><ul><li>Design research </li></ul><ul><li>User-centered design </li></ul><ul><li>Observational research </li></ul><ul><li>Camera studies </li></ul><ul><li>User safaris </li></ul>Design Research
  10. 10. <ul><li>Ethnographic interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Video ethnography </li></ul><ul><li>Depth-interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Contextual research </li></ul><ul><li>Home visits </li></ul><ul><li>Experience modeling </li></ul><ul><li>Design research </li></ul><ul><li>User-centered design </li></ul><ul><li>Observational research </li></ul><ul><li>Camera studies </li></ul><ul><li>User safaris </li></ul>Design Research What-ever!
  11. 11. <ul><li>Examine users (consumers or other) in their own context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are they doing (“usage”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does it mean </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Infer (interpret/synthesize/etc.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Find the connections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The researcher is the “apparatus” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Apply to business or design problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use products, services, packaging, design to tell the right story </li></ul></ul>Design Research
  12. 12. <ul><li>Most people can’t do this without extensive training and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Listening is more than not talking when the other person talks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How is what you do or say next, after they finish talking, influenced by what they just said, or have said previously? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewing looks and feels like ordinary conversation – but it isn’t! </li></ul></ul>Listening
  13. 13. Game: Broken Telephone 2.0
  14. 14. Change and Conformity in Balance <ul><li>“ Folks pick up on the surrounding cultures in at least somewhat idiosyncratic ways…Even with a world of conformers, each conformer thus acts differently. With each striving to emulate the other, there will be a never-ending chain of adoptions and adaptations that, as they move throughout the network, change the substance.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. Consider Cultural Rules <ul><li>New technologies (especially those that enable new, visible behaviors) are often met with distrust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Society sanctions people who violate these norms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>People assert their own normalcy by verbally distancing themselves from the end-points of the normal curve </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We hear these stories over and over </li></ul></ul>Thinking someone is weird or a jerk is a manifestation of the norms of one’s society. What is weird in one age may eventually become normal over time. People who are too… People who are too… Me
  16. 16. Consider Cultural Rules <ul><li>Normal isn’t “right or wrong” – it’s the set of background rules that define much of what people choose or ignore </li></ul><ul><li>To innovate, we must understand a world view (including norms) from our customer’s perspective </li></ul>
  17. 17. Synthesis and Ideation Process
  18. 18. Synthesis and Ideation Process Objectives Findings User Experience Brief Ideation Questions Possible Strategies Possible Solutions Detailed Solutions 7 1 4 5 6 2 3
  19. 19. Synthesis and Ideation Process Objectives Findings User Experience Brief Ideation Questions Possible Strategies Possible Solutions Detailed Solutions 7 1 4 5 6 2 3
  20. 20. Developing Solutions Finding: People are rejecting organizing technologies that have a perceived high barrier to usage Ideation Question: How can we enable obvious utility in a low-cognitive-load way? Strategies: Solutions: Challenge the finding Create learning opportunities to improve cognitive task management Embrace the finding Leverage visual language of children’s toys Packaging Use a cartoon mascot Design Use primary colors Marketing List-making lessons Online Brain fitness games Packaging EZ opening
  21. 21. Generating Ideas <ul><li>Draw or write your idea </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone can draw well enough for this activity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Say your idea out loud </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to the ideas of others </li></ul><ul><li>Quantity over quality </li></ul><ul><li>Build upon their ideas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rather than correct, just generate an alternative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Yes, and…” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember to generate ideas , not just talk about the data </li></ul>
  22. 22. Getting Unstuck <ul><li>Come up with bad ideas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Immoral, dangerous, or bad for business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>aka Don’t Let Logic Impede Your Fancy </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. What An Expert Does Objectives Findings User Experience Brief Ideation Questions Possible Strategies Possible Solutions Detailed Solutions 7 1 4 5 6 2 3
  24. 24. <ul><li>Multiple interviewers </li></ul><ul><li>Build on the ideas of others </li></ul><ul><li>Let there be silence technique </li></ul><ul><li>Make your best contribution by not talking </li></ul>Giving Space To Others The Kids In The Hall are each hilariously talented, but know how to keep quiet to make the scene work
  25. 25. <ul><li>Have a “plan” but be in the moment </li></ul><ul><li>In design research, an interview guide is used to anticipate the flow of the discussion, but it can go in new directions – that’s the a-ha moment you are looking for – the connections the respondent makes </li></ul><ul><li>In improv, the basics of the game give structure , we have a beginning, and then we “look for the ending” </li></ul><ul><li>In ideation, we have a process to focus our work, but we use that process to think divergently </li></ul>Finding Balance
  26. 26. Time for more games?
  27. 27. Take the next step Portigal Consulting www.portigal.com @steveportigal [email_address] 415-894-2001

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