I had no idea what to expect on an improv course , but as a trainer I am always open to learning new ideas, especially those that might translate into useful activities in the training room.
I was delighted to be invited by Paul Z Jackson, a colleague from Unimenta, to a weekend intensive Improvisation at Work course. We were an eclectic bunch of students , including a teacher, solicitor, TV Producer, game developer, IT trainer, website manager and coach.
Should we ‘play’ on training courses?
All the exercises were called games – interesting for me in itself, as I shy away from referring to games when I am training, mindful that delegates might not want to ‘play’. Their opinion or mine, I wonder? This was a good lesson in that play is important – it is our opportunity to explore new behaviours, words, actions and think about the range of responses open to us.
Many of the games were designed to cause shifts in thinking, for example we might naturally bluster when given a compliment, but here we were encouraged not only to accept the observation of a skill or attribute , but to add another to it. Time to reflect on the outcomes of the games was important too, to recognise learning.
The big take away for me was the application of the solution focused approach in business. I’m familiar with the theory in one to one work – it’s about not looking backwards, or to the unwanted future, but instead focusing on the desired future, and then experimenting with ‘baby steps’ to move you towards your goal, assessing progress and changing your rudder as you go.
As a concept for example, in business strategy planning, it is revolutionary and quite at odds with much perceived wisdom. It requires us learn to cope with uncertainty – a useful life skill! As Paul rightly says, so often our plans are out of date before the proverbial ink dries, yet we stick to them blindly.
I still have a lot of processing to do from the learning of this weekend, you might hear more from me on the topic! In the meantime, do check out Pauls courses and books at http://www.impro.org.uk and http://www.thesolutionsfocus.co.uk/.
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here