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Improve Your Business Dealings with Improvisation

"Nothing is accidental ... use everything." -- Keith Johnstone

Even the best-laid plans, the proverb goes, go oft astray. And by learning how to improvise like actors or jazz musicians, corporate types can better adapt to the always changing situations that you face.

What is improvisation? Trying to explain improvisation is like to trying to describe to someone how to ride a bike. The actual experience of riding a bike is much different than the description. Improvisation comprises the crucial mental skills needed for individuals, teams and organizations to thrive in change, innovate and think effectively under pressure.

Although many people are familiar with improv through the television show "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?", few know this interactive art form has been highly valued for its ability to empower performers to respond immediately and inventively to each other and their environment. It originated in Europe in the mid-1500s.

Improvisational structures are governed by rules that require participants to accept and cooperate with each other, listen interactively, and jointly advance the action of a given task while continually supporting each other to be successful.

Improvisation fosters successful collaboration. To succeed, participants must attend to their partners' communication and accept and build upon each other's actions while remaining as flexible as possible. As a result, everyone is empowered to interactively discover his or her inherent creative potential.

When I first was exposed to an improvisational workshop many years ago, I saw the tools that we learned to use -- such as taking risks, accepting each others ideas, exploring them and moving them forward -- were exactly the tools that people in the business world would have to develop to foster ideas under pressure. If people in organizations are unable to think under pressure, build ideas, challenge assumptions and think creatively, their survival will be hampered.

Most people aren't thinking about how they can improvise at work, however. But what they do want to know is: "How do I get my people to share ideas with each other?" Most of the trouble with sharing our ideas derives from our fear that we'll be judged for our ideas and our fear of looking foolish.

To break down barriers and generate ideas, try this fun improvisational exercise, called Ad Room.

Everyone who participates in Ad Room is part of an ad agency. Your goal is to come up with an ad campaign for a fictional product -- gasoline that you can drink, for example -- that would include the customer benefits, slogans, spokesman and jingles.

Have everyone agree not to block new ideas and instead accept and explore ideas together, no matter how bizarre or strange the initial idea sounds. Pay attention to the reticent ones in the group and encourage them to share. If this is next to impossible in the group session, encourage quick one-on-one sharing.

Always debrief by asking what happened. Inquire how they felt about having their ideas agreed with and expanded? Where they stopped themselves? This post-discussion can help everyone learn about how they collaborate with each other.

Improvisation also requires taking risks, which in turn requires tolerance for making mistakes. When you can embrace failure, you can open the door for better innovation. For example, you wouldn't want your airline pilot improvising on takeoff, but you might want the airline to innovate and improvise in other areas, such as ticketing or baggage handling. Even zero-tolerance environments require the skills of improvisation in crisis, as demonstrated by the Apollo 13 mission when the team of astronauts and ground crew had to come up with an innovative solution to filter carbon dioxide out of their space module.

The lesson here is, you'll never have all the information you need to feel totally confident. You just need to leap ahead with the information you do have and trust you'll handle things as you encounter them.

A number of years ago after I had started learning how to improvise better, I was selling radio advertising. I was making a big sales pitch to a retailer on how we could help his business attract new customers. He didn't like my sales pitch and asked me: "What else have you got?"

At that point, I stepped into the unknown and started to improvise other solutions with him. After about 30 minutes, we had created a new, more exciting ad campaign for his establishment. As a result, I got even a bigger sale.

Had I argued with him, I'm sure I would have left with nothing, but by improvising in that situation, I realized there were more ideas to explore. Eventually I found one he liked and bought.

Another improvisational exercise, called "Freeze Tag," demonstrates the challenges associated with changing situations.

Two people begin to play out a scene. When one observer sees an opportunity to step in, he or she calls "freeze" and replaces a player by assuming his or her physical position. The new player restarts the action, taking the scene in an entirely new direction. Individuals must be open to the opportunities in the situation and what they can offer to advance the scene forward. When a new person enters, the person remaining must be ready to support the new direction.

Finally, remember that life is like improv. It's a performance; make it a performance that you're proud to participate in. Be willing to take more risks, accept and advance others' ideas, and trust you'll know what to do. The magic of improv is it nurtures us as creative, connected human beings -- not because it increases your profits.

Copyright In the Moment Productions, Inc. 2002


About The Author

Terrill Fischer, the Chief Entertainment Officer of In the Moment Productions, has given over 1000 paid presentations to audiences of all ages as a professional comedian, Improvisational performer and trainer. He is also the Co-founder of Humor University, and the co-author of the book Making Work Fun: 139 Ways to Lighten Up the Workplace.


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In The News:

Tracking the progress of the third party testing we at PES are coordinating along with U-Plug Products LLC, of their 2 kW U-Plug magnet motor that is a 24"x6" portable cylinder weighing 20 pounds, expected to cost 2,000 USD. We want to run it three times longer (21 hours) than what the best batteries available could provide. (PESWiki; February-April 2016)
Pre-launch video announces a new LENR website coming March 1, 2016 at http://LookingForHeat.com The video is very well done as an entertaining piece that hopefully will go viral. (Free Energy Blog; February 21, 2016)
It's not easy to find a qualified testing agency that is also willing to sign off on something that appears to defy our existing understanding of the laws of physics. U-Plug has agreed to allow for a group of us scientists, including at least 3 PhDs to go test their unit and publish our report. (PESN; February 20, 2016)
So that this is quite clear, this is a test on a Regular Torch. NOT the ELFE flashlight. This is to compare them. 2 x NiMH AA 1.2v Battery's in a Regular Torch with a Halogen Bulb. Load is 2.8v and 0.85amps. (PESN; February 17, 2016)
Video explains the scientific principles behind how the ELFE flashlight harnesses endless free energy from the environment (Earth's magnetic field), which works better in some regions than others. It also shows the insides the torch. Uses the word "antennae," as one of the components. (PESN; February 14, 2016)
"The OPhone contains a capacitor that directly powers our phone. During extensive use this capacitor may become discharged, however this capacitor is being constantly trickle charged by Orbo. So after a period of time the capacitor will be recharged and the phone will be functional again. In essence the phone is charging itself." (Free Energy Blog; February 13, 2016)
The company that has figured out how to harness the earth's magnetic field to produce usable power and has been selling the ELFE flashlight (two more customer reports), is now developing a 3 kW generator. In two weeks, they are holding a business meeting for international distributors. (PESN; February 12, 2016)
Illinois company is gearing up to manufacture a 2 kW (115 volts, 17.3 amps) magnet motor that is load-following, portable, 24"x6" tube, weighing 20 pounds, very quiet, with 3-year warranty but expected to last at least 20 years with zero maintenance. Third-party tested. MSRP 2000 USD, beginning March, 2016, through distributors. (PESWiki; February 11, 2016)
The government agent who worked on this technology five decades ago, that is similar to Professor Steven E. Jones' Joule Ringer, thinks it is conceivable that we could eventually scale this solid state technology up to have a device the size and price of an air conditioner providing 20 kw. (PESWiki; February 9, 2016)
Nagendra Singh in Mumbai, India, informs us that they have built five of these and have two running for customers presently, in the 40 kVA range. "Presently it is too [expensive], costing 3200 USD per kva below 30 kva." (PESWiki; February 8, 2016)
The SunCell is described as a solid state "Sun in a Box." A 200 kW module would weigh around 250 pounds, with energy production cost being around 1 cent/kwh, so return on investment could be ten days. They are expected to be available commercially by Q1, 2017. (PESN; January 6, 2015)
"Today I received my Elfe Flashlight and it works. Time will tell if it meets the claims of automatically recharging, when depleted. If it holds, the claims a real breakthrough in FE technologie would have been accomplished." -- German customer (PESWiki; February 6, 2016)
The phone battery indicator stays near full even with heavy usage throughout the day. (The battery is charged by the internal OCube that pulls energy from the wheelwork of nature, solid state). (PESWiki; February 5, 2016)
The capacity of the Proton-3ND (Proton -3 Nano Diffusion) battery is projected to be 44 times the capacity of lithium batteries. Electric vehicles with these batteries would have more power and much more mileage at no extra charge. (PESN; January 4, 2016)
HH2 water fuel cell creates pure hydrogen off a 9-volt battery. This was a big diesel HH2 cell that was tested on a 16-liter Cat engine for CARB testing; yet it ran on very low amps and a low 9 volts. (PESWiki; February 3, 2016)
A former U.S. Government worker describes his effort to bring to public awareness (by highlighting things presently in the public domain) energy and anti-gravity technologies that the government had operational 50 years ago but has kept from the public. (PESN; February 2, 2016)
Imagine an incandescent bulb that is actually more efficient than LEDs! Well, it actually exists (MIT) and it does so by recycling light. (Free Energy Blog; February 2, 2016)
SMBC-Comics.com has posted a fun spoof on our skeptics. (Free Energy Blog; February 1, 2016)
"OK, so a lot of people are asking what's the difference between an Orbo power cell and traditional batteries." Batteries store energy, Orbo generates energy, then trickle charges a lithium ion battery.] (Free Energy Blog; February 1, 2016)
Mr. Keshe is as misleading in the field of free energy as he is regarding me. That has been my experience the years I've been exposedto his work. He takes something and blows it so far out of proportion that it barely resembles the fact from which it was extrapolated into infinity. He demands: "Close PESWiki now." (PESWiki; January 31, 2016)
They have achieved solid state operation using an electromagnetic pump to spray the molten silver between the electrodes for the 1000/second continuous pulsing for continuous power production. (Free Energy Blog; January 29, 2016)

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