Defining the value of Applied Improvisation in 4 words

What if I asked you to define your mission, or the value of your product in 32 words? How clear, concise and deliberate could you be?

Next, could you define it in 16 words?

8 words?

4?

How about 2?

Here’s the kicker – not only must you create this definition in a limited amount of words, but you must agree on this final definition as a team. And… you only have 2 minutes per round.

This activity was created by performance training guru Thiagi, and it is an activity my Applied Improv Network colleagues Chris Sams, Cheryl Gould and I worked on together yesterday afternoon to help us define the value of the work we do as facilitators and trainers.

First we started by defining creativity. We each silently composed 32-word definitions and then shared them out loud. Hearing the ideas of our team members helped us to go back and individually create 16-word definitions. We repeated the process, then created 8 word definitions, 4-word, and together decided on one 4-word definition of creativity.

Creativity = Freedom to think differently.

Our next challenge was to define Applied Improvisation. Here are our results:

8 word mission : Maximizing organizational potential by enhancing communication, teamwork, trust.

4 word mission: Adapt, innovate, lead, collaborate

This activity allowed us to model the behaviors that Improvisers use on stage. We had a clear, defined objective, and worked together to agree as much as possible. The debrief in between “rounds” was full of eye-opening discussion, brainstorming and respect. We were able to weave in common themes,  while being open and non-judgemental of our team members ideas.

It also forced us to take what could be broad and generalized definitions and turn them into succinct, action-orientated value statements.

Try this with your team to help define your mission or value. Rallying around a common purpose is one of the keys to employee engagement, and the clarity of this purpose will only aid your success as a difference maker.

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