The two toddlers in the video at right have just discovered Lucozade—orange soda—and are erupting in laughter.

Click the image for 53 seconds of pure delight. (I dare you not to laugh.)

Hat tip to master facilitator Viv McWaters, who sent this video in her newsletter, and wrote:

“If the atmosphere in the group is accepting and playful, the capacity to learn from the unexpected is enhanced.” -Viv McWaters

We’re living through the unexpected on a global level right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here in the US, we’ve been living through an unexpected wave of protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

And the truth is, whether we’re talking globally, nationally, regionally, or in your living room, every day brings the unexpected.

None of us is operating with a script.

If you think about it, our capacity to respond to and learn from the unexpected pretty much determines our success in life.

Which brings us back to McWaters’ quote.

“If the atmosphere in the group is accepting and playful, the capacity to learn from the unexpected is enhanced.”

I don’t use play-based methods in my work on a whim.

Take applied improvisation.

The skills that performers use to improvise a scene or story onstage in front of a paying audience are the same skills that make up a high-performing team:​

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Having each others’ backs
  • Leaning into uncertainty in high-stakes contexts

And guess what? Much like the fizzy Lucozade in the video above, improv creates an accepting and playful atmosphere.

“If the atmosphere in the group is accepting and playful, the capacity to learn from the unexpected is enhanced.”

That’s the goal of everything I do:

  • To create an accepting and playful atmosphere
  • To enhance the capacity to learn

​And Now for Something Fun

Knife & Fork

​1. Make sure everyone is muted​

​2. Pair people up and have pairs pin their partner’s video (click on partner; click on three dots; click on “Pin Video)​

​3. Call out items that go together, such as:​

  • knife and fork
  • spaghetti and meatballs
  • up and down
  • shoes and socks
  • bread and butter

4. Pairs have 10 seconds to create those things with their bodies, before you call out the next set of items that go together.​

​You’ll be able to see everyone in Gallery View, so move on when you see them looking like they’ve found a pose, and are not frantically scrambling anymore.​

​Try to keep them moving, and not settled in a pose for more than a couple of seconds, otherwise it will feel boring.​

​Add a debrief to turn this into a powerful exercise on:​

​✅Teamwork​
​✅Communication​
​✅Non-verbal communication​
​✅Leading/following (Did one partner habitually defer? Did they trade off?)​
​✅Dealing with uncertainty​

​It feels like play, but the lessons from this exercise are powerful, and because they’re using their bodies and tapping into emotions, people REMEMBER them.​

​That’s the power of applied improv.

 

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