A Leap Into The Unknown

22 Jul 2014

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Embrace Uncertainty

In traditional theater, A is the start of a play and B is the end. The actors know the whole story and try to convince us that they didn't know what B was when they were at A. If it's done well, we suspend our knowledge of the pre-determinded ending and enjoy the ride.

In improv, A could be a suggestion from the audience or director. B doesn't exist. The audience and the improviser are both taken on an exciting journey of discovery (hopefully!). The destination of that journey is C ... something nobody could have predicted.

Improvisers spend a good proportion of their time in what Uri Alon calls 'the cloud'. This is an uncomfortable space in which you don't feel confident of what's happening or the direction in which you're heading. You feel like running away / going back to what is known (B).

It's also the point when you reach for the obvious - where in improv the same old characters and stories come out again and again.

In the world of business, agile development encourages a try-things-and-fail-fast mentality. It has a strong improvisational quality that recognises that being in 'the cloud' can be a precursor to something truly great. Teams that become practised at recognising this state are better equipped to take interesting risks and innovate.

Put simply: embrace uncertainty by exploring the art of improvisation.


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