Tag Archives: improv community persistence

Commitment

Jake McKee knows a thing or two about creating customer communities and his post on seeing it through is a good example of his news from the trenches.

It reminds me of one of my favourite improv activities. If you’ve got a few spare minutes, try this with a friend or colleague.

Decide who is going to be the finder and who’s the cheerer. Ok, finders, this is what you do. Get into a comfortable position, kneeling, sitting or standing and imagine you’re going to pull a series of objects out of a sack or bin. I suggest you do it with lots of enthusiasm and get your hands and arms moving.

As you reach into your imagnary sack, pull the object out (and I mean move your hands and arms as if it is real) and name it out loud. Don’t “try” to think of the object, see if you can just name whatever object it is that presents itself to your consciousness. If you stop “trying” to think of things, and resist the urge to censor, objects will just appear for you.

Meanwhile, you cheerers, your job is just to make encouraging noises to keep your partner going. Try doing this for two or three minutes and then change over.

What a lot of people find is that it’s difficult to keep up a flow of objects. Often this is because they unconcsiously create extra rules for this activity… rules like “I can’t repeat an object I (or anyone else) mentioned before”… or “if I pull out a vegetable, I can’t just name another vegetable”… or “My objects have to be original”.

Well, you can play by these rules if you like, but my suggestion is they actually block creativity. See what happens if you think less and just say the thing that comes to mind. If you have 16 carrots in a row, or find yourself in a long taxonomy of furniture, don’t worry – just keep going. What I think you’ll find is that if you keep the momentum up, the carrots will eventually run out and something new, and unexpected, will crop up. The creativity begins when the effort to be creative stops!

There’s a few different meanings you can make out of this experience. But one is this: there’s a lot be said for just committing to an action and keeping going, even if you’re not thrilled with the results immediately… I’m not saying you need to persist with stuff that ain’t working – just be careful to not think your way out of being genuinely creative.