Each time I attend an ASTD West Virginia Chapter event, I leave feeling motivated and ready to conquer the training needs of my agency. Today's ASTD Express meeting in Charleston focused on using improvisation in our training efforts. As educators, training coordinators, and workplace learning professionals, we use improv without even realizing we're doing it. When a training participant asks a question, we have to use improv to decide how to answer it. When a participant negatively comments on the material that is being discussed, we have to decide how to respond. When a participant points out a mistake in our educational material (*sigh* Yes, we are all human and make mistakes sometimes), we have to own it.
While improv can be challenging and involves a level of risk, when facilitated properly, improvisation can provide transformational, meaningful training opportunities for organizations both in the private and public sectors. There are four main principles to familiarize yourself with: 1) Yes space, 2) Building blocks, 3) Team equity, and 4) Oops to eureka! Each of these principles ultimately help improve performance and collaboration in the workplace. What do each of these mean?
Yes space allows improvisers to acknowledge that ideas and individuals have the right to be heard by saying "Yes," even when the facilitator or improviser doesn't fully agree with the idea. Sharing ideas can be risky but using "yes space" creates a safe environment for all participants to share.
Building blocks allow the receiver of that statement to continue with "and," which shows that he or she also shares some of the risk by contributing to those ideas.
Team equity is important for high-performing work teams because it uses each person's strengths to provide the best possible outcome for any given scenario.
And when improvisation goes wrong Oops to eureka! allows the improviser to recognize it, acknowledge it, and move on.
What have been some of your experiences in using improvisation in your training efforts? How can these principles improve some of the information sharing among your training participants?