• we can help your staff cope with a world defined by constant change

VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity

We live in a VUCA world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Improv can help your leaders and staff cope with a world defined by constant change.

The improv exercises we’ll use act like microcosms for the uncertain circumstances you’ll encounter every day in the world, and thus offer a perfect framework to train our responses to it.

Improv players are comfortable existing within uncertainty: when they go on stage they simply have no idea what suggestions the audience will throw at them. There is no script. The show is different every time.

But improv performers thrive in this, seeing uncertainty as an adventure to be embraced, rather than a circumstance to be feared. And that is probably the most helpful part of the improv philosophy: always seeing opportunities to be taken, rather than problems to be escaped from.

Improv players throw away pre-conceived ideas in a heartbeat, and exist and react in the moment as the situation unfolds before their eyes. And the way they do this successfully and consistently is simply because improvisers use a few simple ‘rules’. And we teach these rules.

Improv players believe in the philosophy that “everything is an offer”, that is, every new bit of information or feedback that the environment throws up is creative fuel. They see these opportunities by cultivating awareness: being present in the moment. That is, by listening actively, rather than being stuck in their pre-existing plans.

The trouble is, we can be blinded by the status-quo. The ‘but we’ve always done it like this’ mindset boxes in our perception, and means we miss both threats and opportunities.

A frog can only see three things: clear lines of contrast, sudden changes and illumination, and outlines in motion. So a frog only sees what it needs to eat and not be eaten: small, black insects; and big birds swooping down to swallow it. Everything else it boxes out. It sees only what it needs to see in order to survive. And so often as human beings we are focused on survival, of getting through the work day, of the tyranny of the ‘to do’ list and client demands. Thus we miss many threats and opportunities right in front of us. Improv training helps us become more present. So that we can spot these challenges early, and turn them into positives.

Improv players love uncertainty, they understanding that the randomising element of unpredictable suggestions from the audience, and scenes unfolding unplanned, can take them to places that linear thought never could. Therefore change often leads to creative leaps, and this should be celebrated not avoided.

Furthermore, possibly the greatest attitude of mind improv players have is a very positive view of failure and mistakes. These are often wonderful opportunities in scenes. This is relevant in business too. Some amazing things have come out of flops. For example, Instagram started life as a maps app for your phone called Burbn, but was a failure. The only part that was popular was a feature where you could upload photos of where you were. So, it was re-launched as a totally different product and was eventually bought by Facebook for a billion dollars.

In an uncertain world failure is inevitable. New products won’t work, marketing won’t connect, errors will be made. But improvisation can teach you to embrace it. To see the ‘little bets’ you make as an intrinsic part of a modern approach to business. And then we can use the debris of failure to build the next opportunity.

These ideas can seem like trite truisms. Ideas that we all agree with. But the exercises we’ll use will highlight the gap between theory and practice. And get participants to embody and experience the creative potential of mistakes and ‘failures’.

In short, improv teaches you to have a positive attitude to uncertainty and change: ACCEPT IT, CELEBRATE IT, THRIVE IN IT.