How can I increase the potential for shift to happen?

Story-Strategy, Act 1, Episode 2 continues  – Possibility

Lectures where info is simply transmitted, shows, like feel good motivational talks and games like paint ball and potjiekos competitions (team cook-ups), all lack one or both of the essential ingredients for programmes that maximise the potential for shifting your audience, team or workshop participants. These two essential ingredients are performance design and creative participation.

Learning design is the art of turning information into a carefully sequenced and well crafted learning experience. Here the content does not dictate the design, but rather how best to shape the content so that people buy it. Often story, pictures, audio visual stimuli like props and videos and interactive techniques are employed to unfold the material and enliven the presentation. Speakers, trainers and teachers who add this component to their material significantly increase the potential for shift to happen  since it creates more brain connections for participants drawing them into the ‘story in the room’ (content presented).

Creative participation is the art of creating structures that invite participants to contribute their ideas, thoughts and actions to the material. This kind of experiential process  allow participants to bring their own ingenuity to the conversation, and even discover tacit knowledge that they did not know they had. Programmes, talks and interventions that employ games, interactive processes, conversations  and liberating structures also greatly enhance the potential for shift since people are able to connect their own stories to the story in the room.

Old fashioned lectures are poor in both these aspects, shows are stronger in performance design, but lack creative participation and games have the latter, but not the former. For shift to occur, both are needed.

Story-Strategy is a learning design principle that uses the structure of story to design talks, workshops, conferences, and other organisational development interventions.  . Storytellers from the early ages until now have learned to frame and simplify the complexities and abstractions of human experience of change.. Understanding the dramatic  structure of change and developing an intuitive sense of its ebb and flow can greatly improve your ability to create conditions for shift to happen. Story-Strategy is, therefore, an understanding of the big picture of the sequence in which people can take and adapt to new information or behaviour

ImprovSense is a creative participation methodology that uses the principles of Improvisational theatre to foster a climate for creative collaboration and team innovation. Improvsense  is the ability to know when to listen and observe, when to take action and initiative and how to mix the two into a dance of intuitive sensing and responding.  It is the skill and art of improvising in the moment and trusting that the outcome is what it needs to be. These skills are essential for creative participation in finding solutions that individuals can own and use.

When you add Story-Strategy to a game, lives can be changed just like the game of soccer can transform kids when the learning of life skills are designed into the game.

Similarly, when you add ImprovSense to a show by letting the audience take part in the meaning making, you can shift whole communities just like some of the successful AIDS education programmes that combine theatre and educational workshops.

At Playing Mantis we find that story and improvisation are potent companions because they work well together and where they intercept shift is inevitable. This blog is devoted to Story-Strategy, but will refer to ImprovSense as and when needed, so you can have the benefit of both.

When you want to increase the potential for shift to happen, your ImprovSense halps you navigate your action in the moment while your Story-Strategy helps you retain perspective of the big picture. Between the two you create the conditions for shift in the lives of your team members, workshop participants, customers, employees, and, of course, yourself.