Click here for more information about our Team Innovation through Improvisation Workshops.
For a team to be innovative individuals in the team must take risks and help the others to feel safe to take risks. Most people are terrified of taking risks because they are afraid of failing and how others will react when they fail. So in order to protect ourselves from others we rather not take any risks. The irony is that some of the most revolutionary inventions started out as a failure. Just think of penicillin that was invented when a scientist noticed that his “failed” experiment was killing bacteria. Or post-it notes that was invented when a researcher of 3M who wanted to develop a very strong adhesive just created a somewhat sticky substance. His colleague accepted the “mistake” and used it to stick his bookmark in his hymn book. In improvisation we say “everything is an offer”, even a so called mistake. Your responsibility towards yourself to help create an innovative team climate is to take risks. Your responsibility toward your team members is to accept their failures and do something with it.
Before you start your next brainstorming session let everyone stand in a circle. Tell them that everyone will get the chance to step forward into the circle, then say anything in the line of “I made a mistake” or “I failed” and then give a big bow. The rest of the group must then give a round of applause. This exercise is called circus bow, because whenever a trapeze artist makes a mistake and falls down into the net, he will make a summersault out of the net and bow towards the audience as if that was exactly what was supposed to happen. Ask the following debrief questions:
How did that make you feel being applauded for stating that you made a mistake?
How did it feel to applaud the others?
What can we learn from this exercise?
How can we help each other to take risks?
Click here to read part 1 – Introduction
Click here to read part 2 – Communication
Click here to read part 3 – Risk
Click here to read part 4 – Control
3 Replies to “Team Innovation through Improvisation – Part 3”
In dressage horses are often taught to do a circus bow. They put their head between their front legs( at times laying their fore head on the ground) and shift their weight to the rear. This stretches their neck and back muscles also assisting with their suppleness. This is no failure. His rider guides and gently coaxes this movement out of him. Perhaps if our failures were seen by our fellow workers as deliberate “stretches to increase suppleness” we’d all be taking a bow without fear.
Wow Luci! Thank you for this beautiful analogy. I’ll definitely use it in my next workshop.