How to Generate Ideas with Improv
What is improv? Most of us have seen improv in, for the most part, one form. And that's comedy improv, and it's mostly performance-based comedy improv, right? We've had, from an entertainment standpoint, most of us have seen "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Right? It's the T.V. show. Started off in England. Came over here to the United States, where we had four improv performers, and they were given a certain set of rules, and a scene to act out, and told to be funny, which just sounds horrifying to most of us, right? In most cases, we have no interest in being in that scenario. But what's interesting is that the definition of improv is very much connected to us creatively, especially in group ideation methods. So if we look at what the definition of improv is: "A state of being wherein participants create action "without pre-planning producing spontaneous moments "of sudden inventiveness." If you've ever done any improv, or seen any improv, you know this to be universally true, but here's w...
hat's interesting about this definition. It happens to be the exact same definition of a brainstorm. Of a group ideation session. "A state of being wherein participants create "action without pre-planning producing "spontaneous moments of sudden inventiveness." Improv and group ideation are very, very similar. They have similar goals. They have similar set ups. In most cases, you have a goal to solve, you have something that you're trying to solve. And then you have a certain amount of time to do it, and other people with which to do it with. And you're hoping to generate a lot of ideas, a lot of solutions around that. From a creative standpoint, it falls right into our definition of creativity. Creativity, at its core is "problem solving with relevance and novelty." That's all creativity is. We've made it out to be this amazing, amazing thing that some people have and other people don't. It's simply not true. Creativity is problem solving with relevance and novelty. Relevance means that we actually have to solve the problem in order to be creative. That's why it's not artistic. There's a difference between being creative and being artistic. You have to have a problem in order to solve to be creative. Novelty is a degree of uniqueness or differentiation that that solutions possesses. As adults, we do not struggle with solving problems relevantly. We're serial problem solvers. We do it every single day. Thousands of problems you solve every single day. And you solve them with the highest degree of relevance because as a grown up, you know there's another problem coming. Whenever I'm talking about creativity, I'll often give the example: you guys woke up, when you woke up this morning, you were presented with a problem. You had to pee. And in most cases, you solve with the most relevant way possible. You get up and you go to the bathroom, right? But that's not the only way to solve the problem, is it? There's lots of way to solve the problem. You could solve that problem incredibly novelly. Couldn't you? (chuckles) You don't have to get out of bed to solve it. The problem is, that it's not a very relevant solution, because it presents more problems, when you do so. So there is a certain level of relevance that we go through our lives solving problems. Here's the problem with that. It could be another problem to solve. Is that we're conditioning ourselves. As humans, we create conditions. Conditions are routines. Routines are necessary for us to get through life. Imagine waking up in the morning completely fresh and having no idea who you are, where you are, what you're supposed to do, any of that. All the routines that we create in our lives are built and designed for us to get through life in the most efficient way possible. Right? But those routines also get in the way of us generating ideas with some level of novelty, because we condition ourselves to solve problems in the most efficient way possible. So when someone says, "I don't want "the most efficient way possible. "I want all of the ways possible. "What are all the different things that we can do "where all different ways we can solve this problem?" We're not, as humans, conditioned to do so. Something has to break us from that routine. Something has to force us out of that. If you don't physically think about it, you'll take the exact same way into and out of work. Every single day. If you don't give it any consideration, you'll just drive in the exact same way. Something has to force you out of that. As humans, change is forced upon us. Very few of us actually enact change by a willing nature. We're afraid of change. So from a relevant standpoint, we're gonna solve problems in the most efficient way possible, over and over and over again, and we're gonna condition ourselves and become really good at it. You guys are really good at problem solving. Where we struggle, as adults, is novelty. We struggle in generating new ideas, in breaking from those routines, and seeing things from a different perspective. That's what we struggle with. And that's where improv can help us in the greatest way. Improv can help break those routines, at least the concepts of improv. The ability for us to see something in a new light is usually generated from some new restriction that's given to us. If you solve the exact same problems over and over again at work, this is what you do, "I solve these problems over and over again, "and this is what I do." You've become really good at it. And somebody asks you to solve a problem in a different way, and you struggle a little bit, because you're not conditioned to do so. Sometimes you need that break. What's a way for me to shake off my routine, and be able to generate ideas in a very new way? That's what we're gonna look at today. And we're gonna use improv. We call them improv games. We're gonna use improv games to show us what that behavior can teach us about our own creative processes. How we can use that behavior, and what improv teaches us about how to generate ideas in greater quantity and quality.