How Your Ideas can Become Better


Emerging co-creation framework


Life doesn't stick to a script. Why would business? Do you enjoy when you receive a call from someone who's reading a script?

How many conversations are

exactly the same as others

you've had in the past?

Things you invent and come up with in the spur of the moment can be as good as those you labor over. The best sales people I worked with know that listening and being in the conversation with customers and prospects is the winning way.

Experience shows when you have accumulated enough mileage to let go of the rules long enough to respond to the situation at hand. Often, you create new opportunity just by responding in a new way—in negotiations, partnerships, even personal relationships.

Surprise injects a sense of possibility into the equation (done in the positive).


Yes, AND…

It also improves collaboration and innovation. With this simple construct, improvisation liberates the leader and creator in you. Top companies are smart. They hire people based on characteristics that typically don't show up on a resume.

These qualities are “the ability to process on the fly,” a “willingness to relinquish power,” “ease with creating space for others to contribute,” and “individuals who can learn how to learn from failure.” All things you can learn.

In fact, improvisation is one of the four skills of the Emerging Co-Creation framework Virginie Glaenzer and I are teaching in a short, collaborative workshop. For each, we identified the company systems it applies to and the benefits.

Improvisation helps:

  • Lower employee churn
  • Increase experimentation
  • Co-creation in collaboration
  • Pivoting

Imagine a spirit of respect, fun, joyful, and engaging relationships, enhanced creativity because people trust their imagination, higher energy, and shared truths. What's not to like about this list? Yes, AND… you're a natural at improvisation.

Sometimes the best meetings and brainstorms are not even planned. How many times in a day do you have unscripted moments? You bring to bear your knowledge and experience to solve problems as they present themselves.

Talk can change our lives, and listening can make them better.  When you build on a story as it's passed on from person to person, it becomes closer to reality. So many perspectives make it richer.

Business is very much about what people can do together. If you think about the purpose-idea that is at the foundation of your company, then it's how that purpose is expressed and how it comes to life as the ideas get done through interactions.

Companies with big egos have a hard time here. But it is by far more productive to participate in something that is happening than to try to control how it should happen. Community building and facilitation go hand-in-hard with improvisation skills.


Intuitive understanding of status

Status is a thing humans always try to figure out. Accomplished actors, directors, and playwrights are people with an intuitive understanding of the status transactions that govern human relationships.

This little nugget comes from Impro. Keith Johnstone believes clarity is in the mind. His book is about spontaneity training for all purposes. In the chapter on status, and the value of humility in learning and teaching.

Space and status are in relationship. Think about how women are supposed to take little space, physically. And how social media reinforced the status of celebrities and powerful people. There's a relationship between status and power.

I was curious about Johnstone's thought on sanity because of its connection to energy:

“Sanity is actually a pretense, a way we learn to behave. We keep this pretense up because we don't want to be rejected by other people – and being classified insane is to be shut out of the group in a very complete way.

Most people I meet are secretly convinced that they're a little crazier than the average person. People understand the energy necessary to maintain their own shields, but not the energy expended by other people. They understand that their own sanity is a performance, but when confronted by other people they confuse the person with the role.

Sanity has nothing directly to do with the way you think. Its a matter of presenting yourself as safe.”

Regardless of what you think about a book published in 1979, it will help you think differently. Learning to be warm and spontaneous could be lifesaving. For one, it will help you understand the how to be an original, without the mental baggage.


The best ideas come from variation

And not from being “always on.” I'm passionate about rest, restoring, and recreation because they build on this concept. Robert Poynton lives off grid in rural Spain, 3km outside a small town you most likely don't know.

He's the author who stated that you're not your “to do” list. Do Pause is for all who are obsessed with filling every minute of their day. Creating the conditions where good things can happen is more powerful than trying to control events or people.

In a way, my blog of 15 years has been the test case for variation time and time over. Everything's an Offer explains how the practices of improvisation can help you make more with what you have, using less effort, less energy and less resources (whilst creating less difficulty and stress).

How could you show up in day-to-day encounters with each other? If  you remembered that everything is an offer. You can accept what you observe around you and use it, and you can block it. As long as you do either one deliberately, not out of habit.

Accept, or block: either is useful as it invites you

to understand the consequences

and to figure out what serves your purpose.

Life can and is beautiful in the random or shuffle mode. I grew up in a house where everything was recycled, upcycled, and utilized creatively. Since an early age, and to this day, I've learned to make do with what is at hand.

A few passages that explain better the core thought and practice:

The practice is what makes it possible for improvisers to make more with less in no time at all and glean an enormous amount of personal satisfaction from doing so.


The heart of this practice can be summed up in six words: let go, notice more, use everything.


Seeing a world full of offers feels very different from seeing a world full of problems. Problems are something you want to get rid of, whereas an offer is something you can take and use.


Nonetheless it is important to understand that seeing everything as an offer is not about looking on the bright side. In Monty Python’s Life of Brian people break into song as they are being crucified, happily intoning, “Always look on the bright side of life.” This is not what I mean by seeing everything as an offer. Looking on the bright side is a kind of judgment and, as we will explore in Chapter 8, part of the improviser’s practice is to stay out of judgment (i.e., to try and avoid premature decisions about what is good or bad).


Seeing everything as an offer does not require you to see the loss of your job, your dog or your grandfather’s antique wristwatch as a good thing—it just asks you to look at the reality you face, ugly or otherwise, and ask yourself the question “What is here that I can use?” An offer is not nice or nasty, prickly or cuddly; someone falling asleep in your presentation, a pay raise or a broken leg are all offers in equal measure. The only question the practice leads to is “What do I want to do with this?”

Improvising is a wonderful tool for being present to opportunity. To be willing to flex, adapt, and adjust to what you have, rather than wishing you had something else.


“Be changed by what you hear”

During my keynote talks, I'm in conversation with the people in the room. There are usually 3-5 people who are connecting with their body. Facial expressions, and also how they sit. This connection transforms the stories I share.

The act of noticing what is going on in the room is very powerful. It literally improves my delivery and tempo. That's why at the end, I usually have a long line of people who feel energized and enthusiastic about the talk. I met amazing colleagues this way.

This is more challenging to do on video. The mind-body connection gets lost in the fractional delays of video feeds. Presence is hard to recreate in the absence of face to face. But the effort of connecting can suggest you other ways to compensate.

Improvisation is the ultimate tool for allowing things to emerge. It's a skill based on humility and acceptance. A high tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity opens the door for something interesting to happen.

The part where you go off-script: that's agency.


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