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Let’s improvise!

Welcome to Love Mondays, a weekly newsletter designed as a 3-minute hit to fire up the other 10,077 minutes of your week.

Hi Love Monday readers!

In today’s world, we are constantly searching for stable footing as seismic shifts roll beneath us. We have little choice but to improvise. Building improvisation into the culture as a skill allows us to crowd-source the group’s imaginative intelligence and build a practice of rapid adaptation.

What needs improvising this week? Write it down.

Consider: who should be in the room to help collaborate on the improvised outcome?

Practice: using the ‘yes, and’ principle as a group to hone rapid adaptation skills

Decide to: structure a few rounds of ‘yes, and’ to ideate the pain points of or process, product or situation

The yes, and philosophy.

Three MIT Sloane professors, Edivandro Carlos Conforto, Eric Rebentisch and Daniel Amaral, conducted extensive research into the principles of agility and adaptability in project teams. As the research team characterised it, innovation projects (which are inherently challenging due to their uncertainty and rapidly evolving nature) require improvisation skills. In order to succeed, the project team must be able to respond quickly to changes and actively recognise opportunities to improve results under time and cost pressures. They found that projects with extreme changes in requirements (90 per cent or more) employed 41 per cent more improvisation practices than projects that had relatively stable requirements (10 per cent or fewer changes).[i] This suggests that higher levels of improvisation, deliberate or not, are more likely to happen in projects that have fluid and unstable specifications. In other words, as the world of work becomes increasingly volatile, the more critical it becomes to feel comfortable improvising.

‘Yes, and’ is perhaps as much a philosophy as it is an improvisation method. It encourages the pursuit of a common goal while maintaining an individual intellectual perspective. In my experience ‘yes, and’ actually allows people to flourish. As business improv expert Bob Kulhan puts it in his book Getting to ‘Yes And’, ‘unconditional acceptance is not the same as unequivocal agreement.’[ii] There is still room left for healthy, respectful contention.

Life is too short not to Love Mondays! You don’t need to have all the answers. But having all the good ideas on the table can be very useful!

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Love your Mondays!