Last week I organized an Improv for Marketers event here in Burlington. We had two groups of 15 people led by local comedians Nathan Hartswick and Natalie Miller of Spark Arts VT.
Needless to say, it was a very fun morning.
This event was a bit different than my previous ones. But as I shift my business into a more experience and service design focus, I’m struck by the absolute necessity of improv skills for innovation and creativity. Or perhaps I’m struck by the lack of these collaborative and open-ended skills among most business people (regular people too, for that matter). So part of my desire was to get better at this myself, and part of it was to educate the VT business community.
I was impressed by the comments I heard afterwards, like:
“I need to go back to my work to get us to listen more. I’m realizing how much we only talk about ourselves without listening to the other person.”
“It was really uncomfortable not to be in control all the time. I have to sit on that for a bit.”
“Amazing how much creativity there is in the room when you work together.”
In my design workshops I usually include one improv exercise but after doing this, I have one or two new ones I’m going to introduce. Getting to “Yes and” is a continual challenge for everyone.
I even brought a few of the exercises home to use with the family at the dinner table. Of course the kids were way better than us parents.
Hopefully there’s more improv training in my future.