Let’s solve the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat!

What happens when we change the rules for how we interact with each other?

Industrial psychologist, Burgert Kirsten, and I will be hosting a workshop at the International Organisation Development Association (IODA)) conference in Cape Town this coming week.

The theme of the conference


The role and form of OD in embracing diversity in organisational, systemic and social change

We are planning a high energy action orientated, playful investigation of the systemic powers that perpetuate inequality, othering and injustice.

Our topic is:

Solving the world’s problems in 90 minutes flat – Applied improvisation for Social innovation


  • Creating a climate for risk taking
  • Making it safe to differ.
  • Playing with unusual roles, identities and actions.
  • Taking diversity challenges head on.
  • Moving from conversation that control to conversations that connect.
  • Addressing the systemic forces that perpetuate othering.

Here is a short video to a predecessor of the work we will present at the IODA/Flourish! conference.

The outline of our proposed session is as follows:

S – Setting the strategic intention

What are the problems in the world we want to solve and why are they so hard to address?

Improv rules are used to change how we are together so that we can change default behaviours and become aware of our interaction choices.

T – Transitional exercises’

Applied improv games that push the boundaries of race, gender class etc. in a fun and playful way allowing reflection on our boundaries and how they function.

Choosing the problems (2 or 3) we will take on today. (processes that identify the system of interactions that govern these problems.

O – Open experimentation

Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment techniques based on Boal’s image theatre and systems thinking to build models of the problem systems. Activating them to see how they function and playing with alternatives to try and change them.

R – Reflection

We reflect on the meaning of the experiments for each of us and for our work and other communities.

I – integration

We choose and ‘rehearse’ alternative actions that we can take to change our stories and our systems relating to the problems we see in the world.

Practical information/skills/tools participants will gain from this session

  • How to change the rules of an encounter.
  • Exercises that create conversation about barriers and boundaries between people.
  • A system awareness of power relationships.
  • An introduction to frameworks and techniques that address these barioiurs and boundaries.
  • Tools for moving beyond talking, towards taking action.

We are indeed privileged to present at this conference and looking forward to the collaboration and connection with other OD practitioners.

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