"Man is most nearly himself, ... when he achieves
the seriousness of a child at play."
-- Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher, 500 B.C.
"Make your partner look good" is one of the basic concepts of improvisation, a technique that is rapidly becoming a powerful change process in organizations. Alain Rostain, the founder of CreativeAdvantage, a firm that helps organizations develop new ideas, discovered improvisation in 1991 while working as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is also the founder of Applied Improvisation Network, an organization formed to help members share ideas and experiences about using applied improv.
Improvisation, while normally thought of as a comedy process, provides a safe playing field for spontaneity, creativity and the emergency of new ideas. It is defined by the concepts it embraces:
- Pay attention and be present.
- Make your partner look good.
- Don't censor yourself.
- Say, "Yes, and ..." instead of "Yes, but..."
- Listen generously
- Take risks and embrace failure.
- Say the obvious thing -- in other words, the first thing that comes to mind.
- There are no wrong answers.
I especially like "make your partner look good." What if everyone worked from that perspective? What if each of us considered it our responsibility to make our partners and co-workers look good?
For more information about improv in business, contact Alain Rostain.