• Improv Games for Innovation with Paul Boos


    Santeon’s Agile Coach Paul Boos hosted a session at InfoCampSC on how to use improv games for stimulating and generating innovation. The twelve session attendees played three games together.

    The first game was a warm-up exercise used frequently to get Improv groups used to working together and stimulate thinking; it’s known as “The Machine” (watch "The Machine" in action here). One person starts a mechanical motion of some kind usually accompanied by some sounds appropriate for the motion. Then one by one, others join in adding to the motions. The last person jumps and adds their bit, announcing the name of the machine (which usually is about what it is doing). As a simple creative exercise, it shows the simple principle of Improv, “yes and…” Contrast this with around typical convergent thought, “yes, but…”

    The next game had four people share the issues they have had with MS-Excel. Pairings of two would then pick a problem and work together to create a solution for it. From there they were asked to create an offshoot idea from that solution. This continued on this route with each pair creating a new idea until they had a total of four new ideas from the solution they had originally derived. This exercise stimulates along a creative path with each new succession getting a bit more “out-there”.

    The third game again required session attendees to pair up. Each pair was simply asked to create a storyline in two rounds. They were only given thirty seconds in their first round of writing and then fifteen seconds in their second round. They would begin writing a story and then when the time ended, the next pair would start. Use this when trying to generate concepts along a certain theme.

    The fourth and final game was quite simple. Paul asked the group to collaboratively draw a picture to express their feelings on the day’s session. The catch? Members could only draw one line each. Some drew short and straight lines, others long and curly, and the rest drew everything in-between. Below is the resultant picture (they concluded it was a dragon):

    By playing these games in an improv setting the group was able to achieve several things. The answers to the solutions were quite creative; a result of improv’s ability to let one focus on simply creating ideas without having to immediately judge them. The second game then taught that, once new ideas have been imagined, the “Yes, and…” method is an excellent way to develop and build upon those ideas. The drawing game was another creativity exercise for the group members which forced them all to look at the same thing and form different opinions on it before working together to form one, coherent definition.

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