I’ve just stepped off the plane. from California. Southern California in fact. I’ve been in Los Angeles for the past 10 days, playing and making things up. Yes, I know that sounds fantastic (and it was) and not related to work. How can you be working and having fun?

Well, this was a conference with a difference, one that transformed the way I work.

203 Global Collaborators

I have been listening, learning and contributing at the AIN17 conference. The annual global gathering for the Applied Improvisation Network.

The AIN uses the principles and tools used in the practice of Improvisation, and uses them to generate learning and positive behavioural change in organisations, groups and individuals. It is particularly used to improve creativity, collaboration and confidence, developing skills such as agility, flexibility and resilience.

Those who attend all embody the principles, so you will not encounter a greater density of open, sharing and people than the 203 brilliant practitioners, drawn together from all over the world. For the first time, we had contributors for 6 continents. So anyone reading this in Antarctica, please get in touch if you are inspired, we want the complete set!

To be immersed in such a community for a over a week is an amazingly enriching experience. We listen, share practice, discuss applications and perspectives from practice all over the world. Oh, we play too. There is a lot of playing. Play is a key part of the practice. To experiment, to laugh and to experience. This is not simply knowledge transfer, it is an enjoyable, interactive sport for everyone.

I can honestly say that since getting involved in this area, it has transformed the way I teach, my mindset and how I engage with others.

The Art of Noticing

This is my second time, after stumbling into the one held in Oxford in 2016.
Last year, I was so inspired by the community, I created my own session “Improv for Introverts’. I shared my own perspective on how using these principles have positively impacted my behaviour and mindset.

This time I wanted to offer something more practical, so I presented “The Art of Noticing’. A mini workshop, in which I use simple, fun exercises to draw out and illustrate organisational issues and drive transformation. Simple but amazingly powerful.

I’ve used this with several organisations to start conversations on the ways they work together, their organisational culture and what is stopping their development. It is great shortcut to raise awareness of how our hidden assumptions and ‘How we do things round here’, can stifle communications and our working relationships. We then work together to find ways to improve this, through our programmes, workshops and coaching.

The reaction from experienced practitioners and teachers, was wonderful. ‘That was amazing’, ‘You have great presence’ and ‘Thanks for sharing that, I’ve never used that method with groups before, but you’ve inspired me to think differently.’

Definitely worth travelling half way round the world for and several more days, discombobulated by jetlag (It’s currently 0425 in the morning).

We are in Hollywood, there must be a Moral to this Tale

Yes, absolutely. Every story has a ‘What have we learned’ moment.
For me, getting involved with this network has been a life changing moment. Finding a tribe that inspires, shares and nurtures has been amazing opportunity.

To engage with a diverse community including actors from LA, Japanese education specialists, medical teams impacting patient-doctor conversations and researchers looking at ways to combat the onset of Alzheimer’s in our aging population, is both stimulating and humbling.

It is this diversity which is one of the pillars of innovation and embracing change. Challenging our perspective, keeps us fresh and open to new ideas. It builds agility and flexibility to make the most of the next opportunity, when it presents itself.

Stephen Covey, in his seminal development work, the ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ talks about ‘Sharpening the Saw’. The need to invest in our tools, as well as using them. It is a reminder that if we want to keep learning and developing, then we must keep feeding the things that inspire us, even when it requires significant effort to get there.

Was it worth the jet-lag? Yes, and I’ll be booking next year’s, the minute I’m home.

So, where next?

What are you doing to unearth the things stopping you and your organisation?
Want to notice more and drive change?
How can you build capability to deal with the challenges of leading and operating in the 21st Century?

If you would like to know more about how we integrate these principles to stimulate agility, communication and creativity in organisations, groups and individuals, get in touch.

Colin Pinks
Director, Regent Leadership
+44 (0) 203 870 6666