There is an Applied Improv exercise I use quite a lot, called “Strawberry/Vanilla”. People mill randomly around the room, and every time two people pass each other, they make eye contact and simultaneously they say out loud either the word “Strawberry” or the word “Vanilla”. They must speak simultaneously, and, here’s the catch, they must both say the same word. Before we play, I’ll often ask people to estimate how successful they will be. The usual estimate is between 30% and 50%. The amazing thing is, once we have been playing for a while, I ask people what their success rate actually is, and it is always up around 90% – 95%.
Think about it. Looked at rationally, it’s an almost impossible exercise. How can both people guess the right word to say practically every time? Can’t be done. Yet even fairly inexperienced improvisers quickly learn the trick of collaborating by offering and noticing tiny cues of eyes and mouth that help ensure they both make the same choice. It’s not magic, though it looks like it, it’s a heightened form of awareness, looking, listening, and commitment to working together.
Would you like your team to be able to perform the impossible, with ease? Collaborate effortlessly? Then take the Improv Initiative.