The Art of Improvisation

"Working with the unfolding moment"

Trevor conducted this session at the 2004 GANZ in Sydney
In every community the unfolding moments of life bring challenge, opportunity, excitement and sometimes fear. Working with these moments of experience and experimenting with the novelty they bring leads to new and exciting possibilities. Through acknowledging and accepting each moment of experience it becomes possible to build on the experience and seek vibrant and creative responses to what is happening. This is the art of improvisation.
In organisations, whether business focused or not, the sense of being in company with others or in community is rarely experienced. Many organisations attempt to prescribe behaviour and responses to events in ways intended to focus on the organisationís purpose and goals. The work of individuals is frequently defined and arranged within patterns. In other words it is orchestrated, with each person playing their part in the overall schema of predicted events (which rarely turn out precisely as predicted).
In the modern organisational world, which is full of complexity, ambiguity and paradox, improvisation is an important way for managers and executives to cope successfully with uncertainty. There are no answers outside the ability to respond in the moment, to work with what is and to learn and grow from the experience.

To make decisions on the basis of expectations of what might happen is to be always shooting in the dark. You may hit the target, but this will be more a matter of luck than marksmanship. To work with what is and to improvise and create as each moment unfolds is to fashion the future.

The art of improvisation has four vital ingredients:

  • spontaneity and emerging possibilities
  • pragmatism, working with what youíve got
  • surrendering and letting go
  • trusting your process

    All of these were presented and discussed in a Gestalt framework, along with an invitation to participants to consider how we can work more with improvisation within the GANZ community.
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