See Mark Duncanson at 1:52

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Team Oakley for the WIN!

Wow! If you live in the City of Oakley, you should be VERY proud of the team that serves you! Police, Public Works, City Clerk’s Office, Finance, Community Services, Planning, Utility Billing, and more… this is a team that gets making each other look good. Team Oakley made themselves vulnerable and jumped head first into some applied improv training in the interest of building team. Not one stage performer in the group and they engaged in every exercise with intention and energy. FANTASTIC! Thanks to Lindsey and Cindy for having me out, I look forward to seeing you all again!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jump, Tom-- JUMP!

I applaud any team that has the open mind to use something as creative as theatrical improvisation to unlock the potential energy of their team. So many great things can happen at work if you have a team that has the “Yes, and…” mindset. Yes, even teams that rely on cold hard facts, numbers, and black and white data can stand to get out of their heads, set aside logic and just play!

The “Yes, and…” principal in improvisation (simply put) states that when on stage, the actors say “Yes” to any and all offers given. If I am creating a scene with you and you start our improv scene by saying, “Tom! This is your time now, you have been training for two years to make this skydive from thirteen thousand feet!” My job as an improviser is to “Yes, and…” that offer. There are MANY ways I can do that. Physically I could tuck my thumbs under my (imaginary) parachute pack harness and yell over the (imaginary) airplane engine and say, “Kevin! It’s because of you I am ready for this jump, you and your encouragement, love, and most of all the huge amount of money you bet that I wouldn’t jump!”

In my answer to Kevin, I accepted is offer and added to his original idea of skydiving, a “Yes, and…” concept known as “Accepting and Advancing”. I took care of my fellow improviser by letting him know 1) I heard his offer, 2) I am using his offer and adding to it (not taking away from it). These concepts shouldn’t be foreign to most of us. Improv is a more engaging, entertaining, and fun form of practicing active listening—yep, I said it… and it will be the last time in this post as I am not a fan giving you that same old lecture on active listening in the work place. This is why improv rules!

Improv trainings in the workplace are fun, engaging, and allow a team to discover new ways of communicating to their team, clients, and customers. I was fortunate enough to lead an applied improv training for 30-40 principals, vice principals, and district admin staff including their superintendent—all in business attire. Yeah, I was nervous! After reassuring them that I was not recording them or requiring them to get in front of an audience, I was impressed at how these seemingly straitlaced, stuffy education administrators were willing to let their guard down and PLAY! Through improv play, they loosened up and started telling ME how they can use improv concepts in the office and with their school faculties.

Think about it… even if one works in a finance department, that finance department is supporting a bigger picture. Be it a bank, car dealership, restaurant, or school. If that finance team takes their knowledge of numbers and is open enough to learn the art of play through improvisation, their team is opening themselves up to hearing and seeing the programs and departments they support in new ways. They can even unlock creative ways to solve issues and financially support these departments. And at the end of the day, some teams just need time away from their day-to-day to just PLAY!