The rules of improv are simple:
1. Always agree with and add to the last person’s statement. “Yes, and…”
2. Always make the other people look good.
If you’ve watched a comedy improv troupe in action, you know improv results are always unexpected and hilarious.
If you apply those same improv rules to your team discussion, you can create memorable, amazing discussions.
Peter Sims, in Little Bets, sings the praises of improv in unleashing creativity.
I’ve seen the improv power at work among my own group of friends, a troupe of our own that gets together one day twice a year to discuss improvement methods and implementations. We talk for 12+ hours and the conversation never idles. We talk at a mad rush all day, building on the first kernel of conversation using the “Yes, and…” improv language to build, and build, and build. By the end of each day we’ve learned more than any of us thought possible and had a wonderful time doing it.
This week I tried a safe-fail experiment using the improv rules to unleash creativity during a two-person meeting. Our goal was to create a new training product and we had few boundaries to limit ourselves. Using the “Yes, and…” language we created more than a few major “ah-ha” ideas. I’m excited to try the concept out again with another team next week.
So far, I’m hooked on this improv idea. Try it out and tell me what you think.
If you’re interested in how the improvisation method works to shut off the judging center of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, check out the research of Dr. Charles Limb at this Ted Talk.