Would you be willing to play improv games with your team if it added value to the team? Maybe it seems too risky or uncomfortable. For our November event, Andy Matthews had the ODA members doing and saying oddball things and laughing uproariously. In amongst the laughter we were seeing incredible value in using improv as an OD tool.
Andy started us off with a safe game that was designed to help us remember each other’s names whilst also encouraging team-work, focused attention and active listening. We then moved onto a more adventurous game where we were asked to throw imaginary balls around the room. This is where the uproarious laughter came in. Whilst the imaginary balls were whizzing around the room, Andy encouraged us to stay focused and be intentional in who we were throwing to and to keep ourselves open to receiving a ball by paying attention and giving non-verbal cues that we were ready to ‘catch’ the ball. This game reminded us to consider how often work projects are dumped on someone’s desk when they are not ready or able to receive it. In a subtle and fun way, we were being reminded to be mindful of another person’s capacity to take the ‘ball’.
We then moved to a zip zip game which required quick thinking and the ability to remain flexible and present. Everyone enjoyed the ‘freak out’ and the clapping and bowing when someone failed. Imagine if failure at work was greeted with clapping and a bow! How much more willing would we be to take risks and be innovative.
The final game demonstrated how to move a conversation into a more personal and honest space simply by adding ‘and the reason for that is I…’
In a couple of hours, Andy demonstrated that improv games can develop team synergy, personal awareness, communication skills, and team creativity. He demonstrated how to initiate the collective energy thus allowing new possibilities to emerge. But maybe the best part of the night was, we all had a laugh together. What a wonderful way to finish the year.