The theme of the event was how to operate in complex environments. We put in some theory, with a big nod to Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework but we kept the formal instructional element very light. (We’re into facilitation not training, after all). Much of the time we used Improv activities to give people live experiences of operating with others in complexity.
Improv games are often ridiculously simple at first sight, often provoking gales of laughter… but are also quite confronting. We get to see how much psychological luggage we bring to supposedly simple activities, and how it frequently messes with the success of the group. Improv puts players in a position where they powerfully influence group behaviour but have frustratingly little control. It’s the land of unintended consequences.
This is probably my favourite way to work, and I enjoyed it all the more for working with a mate. That’s partly because hosting improv is just as challenging as being a player, with regular reminders of the need to keep interventions light and avoid interfering too much. Several times, we relearnt that you can let the games do the teaching without laborious and often counter-productive coaching. Having a colleague to check in with made it easier to keep my owh control-freak tendencies in check.
I’m in Australia now, chilling out for a day or two before the next dollop of complexity in the shape of the Show Me The Change conference – where even more friends will be around.