rapidly changing and unpredictable environment, with which traditional
management principles and practices cannot cope, demands new creative
approaches. Quite interesting is the approach based on improvisation.
The paper http://www.pioneerbooks.com/imporg.htmexamines the essential characteristics of an
improvising organization, and suggests several training exercises to
develop this skill.
that in musical improvisation, a change in one sound calls to changes
in many other sounds. This is what makes improvisation so interesting -
a seemingly minor changes may turn our to have a major impact (a kind
of 'butterfly effect'!)
good paper on improvisation is "ORGANIZATIONAL IMPROVISATION: WHAT,
WHEN, HOW AND WHY" at ttp://www.fe.unl.pt/~jvc/Improv4w.html
the school of Management (Department of Organizational Studies, Boston
College) organized a symposium on "Lessons from Theater: Beyond
Metaphor", where theatrical improvisation techniques have been
suggested as a tool for adopting the improvisational mindset in
management. The abstracts presented at this symposium are at p://cbae.nmsu.edu/mgt/jpub/boje/theaterlessons/
papers "Improvisation and Learning: Soul mates or Just Friends?" at http://www.fe.unl.pt/~jvc/ImprLEAR.htmland "Improvisation versus Order" at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/optionality/may97a.htmare are also quite evocative while searching for new
ways of organizational thinking under conditions of criticality.
using performance improvisation in your work with organization, it
would be good to have a read how the professional actors see the power
of improvisation: "Improvisation is a form of theatre in which no
script is used. Instead, the actors create the dialog and action
themselves, as they perform. The most popular style today is "spot"
improv, in which performers get suggestions from their audience and use
them to create short, entertaining scenes". More about this at http://sunee.uwaterloo.ca/~broehl/improv/index.html
personal opinion is: Yes, Improvisation can lead to creative insights
in organizational practice! As a matter of fact, unconsciously or
consciously managers are involved in honing their improvisational skill
every time when they encounter unknown and turbulent situations - even
an ordinary meeting is a kind of performance, a kind of improvisation
aimed at pursuing some pre-set or emergent agenda. As Masters of Arts
in CCC http://www.hawkesbury.uws.edu.au/academic/socialinq/complexity/MAchaos.htm), we need to understand the power of improvisation in
organizational practice and to apply when necessary in order to spur
creative insights (which is vital under conditions of organizational
criticality!). The warning is not to lose the sense of reality when
performing! Some practitioners immerse so deeply in the art of
improvisation that they start to develop distorted pictures of both
reality and themselves. It is good to remember that emergent phenomena
in organizational development always manifest unfolding of authentical
dynamics. Life is not a rehearsal or... What do you think?
In arts -
theater, music, ballet, writing, etc. we use our skill to improvise in
order to enrich our own performance, to expand our own creativity, to
explore new peaks in the landscape of our own self realization.
Therefore, improvising is a kind of experimenting with ourselves - it
serves our personal endeavors. The improvisational skill of Ella
Fitzgerald in the jazz singing and Maria Kallas in the opera singing
put them at the highest pedestal of performance never reached before
(and still unreached today). As a result of this, that is, indirectly,
their achievements have aesthetical influence on those who are
interested in jazz or opera.
organizational practice, improvisation serves the organization - it is
not so much centred in me as a performer (look what a wonderful
improviser am I, so please admire me!) but in the organization as a
whole (look what a high degree of organizational creativity my
performance succeeds to stimulate, and how much this helps the
organization in the present moment of such an extreme turbulence!). In
this way, the high improvisation skill of a manager has a direct
influence on people working in the organization by facilitating
conditions for their self realization.