yes, my tuatara loves to cha-cha: improv, creativity and design

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Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-ChaImprov, Creativity and DesignSteve Portigal@steveportigal

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Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title style1

Introduction

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Define and experience improv

Look at research, creativity, designOverlaps, similarities and parallelsSome implicit; some explicit

Insight into new ways of thinkingRather than rundown of how Portigal Consulting uses improv in consulting engagements Today (and whats this about tuataras?)

No tuataras will be harmed.

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleAudience: what have your experiences been with improv? Watching? Doing?

Also: throwing some stuff at you for you to make the connections yourselves. I want to hear them.

NEW: Add what this is not its not a set of case studies from my practice. This is something that infects me at all levels and seeps into our practice and Ill share some anecdotes, but this is coming from another place and is aiming for another purpose. In some ways its very personal to me and what I think about in small ways all the time.

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We help companies to plan strategically for user research and to unlock their research super powers.

Portigal

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Resources, presentations and to purchase http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/interviewing-users/

Interviews with in-house user research leadershttp://portigal.com/series/DollarsToDonuts/

Coming in 2016http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/epic-fail/

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Improv: The funny will come

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Improv is not stand-up comedyIn contrast to improv, stand-up isHighly scriptedRehearsed, with nano-second timing

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleThe art of standup is, among many things, about perfecting the detail. Standups will do the same material over and over, and try different ways to tell the story, when to pause, what inflection to use, what choice of words. Its about wringing the maximum amount of funny out of a bit of content. 7

Improv is...A highly-constrained performance with several open parametersElements of problem solving

UnscriptedSpecifics assigned right before performance startsYour first idea is often your best idea

Emphasis on playfulness over being funnyI could never do that, because Im not funnyIt can be (at times) funny to watch, but not about trying to be funnyThe funny will comeDont let logic impede your fancy

Improv is cheaper than therapy

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleIts not just blahhh! Do whatever!

Why I dont like improv comedy

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Corporate training on collaboration and creativity

Meeting facilitation/ideation warm-up

Informance (from Interval Research)

User research methods

Improv finds it way into many areas

At Pixar, when someone suggests an idea, others should respond with Yes, and ... Theyve used improv to create the most trusting environment possible where people can screw up.

Pixar tells story behind 'Toy Story, SF Chronicle, 8/23/05

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Improv and collaborationThrowing an idea

Accepting offers/saying yes

Trust

Listening

Setting up the spike

Chris Miller emphasizes that your task in improv is to make your partner look good.

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleHeres where we explain Yes, and ask have people heard of this?10

Improv Dark Patterns

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Improv can bringInsights about humor

Confidence in public speaking

Timing

Did I mention therapy?

Building skills in listening

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Game: Storytelling Circle

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Designing for users: needs and culture

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleYou can think for all of these how principles and practices from improv apply14

Interviewing users requires expert listeningAt this level, most people cant do this without extensive training and practice

Listening is more than not talking when the other person talksHow is what you do or say next, after they finish talking, influenced by what they just said, or have said previously?

Interviewing looks and feels like ordinary conversation but it isnt!

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Listening is in the body as well as the ears/eyesYes!Not so much.

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title style16Act as if, Gladwell

Game: Telephone 2.0

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Change and Conformity in BalanceFolks pick up on the surrounding cultures in at least somewhat idiosyncratic waysEven with a world of conformers, each conformer thus acts differently. With each striving to emulate the other, there will be a never-ending chain of adoptions and adaptations that, as they move throughout the network, change the substance.

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Bad ideas get you unstuckImmoralDangerousBad for business

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Bad ideas get you unstuck

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So where does this leave us?

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Emerging principle: giving space to othersMultiple interviewers

Build on the ideas of others

Let there be silence technique

Make your best contribution by not talking

The Kids In The Hall are each hilariously talented, but know how to keep quiet to make the scene work.

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Balance: Structure for FreedomIn user research, we anticipate the flow of the discussion, but it can go in new directions thats the a-ha moment you are looking for

Improv games give structure, we have a beginning, and then we look for the ending

In ideation, we use a process to think divergently

Fuel creativity: extinguish I cant do that by breaking problems into smaller solvable ones and reframing success

Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha#PortigalClick to edit Master title styleAkin to making marks on a page no one can draw but anyone can draw well enough for this exercise23

Takeaway: Try a little more yesWhen someone teases you (just listen to how comics go back and forth), try responding with yes.

Even if you dont add the and the act of yes can change the dynamic.

Gain control by giving up control.

Try it in a situation you wouldnt expect to.If I ever become a New Age guru offering a spiritual path to a happier life, this will be the way Ill present myself.

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Hungry for more?Attend an improv classAttend an improv showStart your own improv classWatch improv or improv-based stuff

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@steveportigalsteve@portigal.comwww.portigal.com

Thank you!

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