Welcome to One Word Suggestion.
Most people think improv is just for comedy or jazz music. But, really, it’s a tool for life. For each article in this series I use a single word, suggested by you, as a leaping off point to explore how having an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level, both personally and professionally, whether you have a career on or off the stage.
One Word Suggestion: Pizza
I’d like to start this article by thanking you for listening and sharing your words and feedback and letting me know you’ve subscribed. It means a lot. And I’d also like to ask you a favour, and that is, in a word “share.” If you’re enjoying One Word Suggestion share it with one friend. The link is one word suggestion dot net.
And in the meantime, one of the things I’ve heard from some of you is that many of the one-word suggestions so far have been a little bit too serious. So for this episode, I’ve chosen an extremely serious word… Pizza.
Ever think about what it takes to make a pizza?
First, there’s all the people involved – farmers, butchers, cheesemakers, truck drivers, marketers, chefs, delivery drivers and of course, customers.
And then there are all the processes involved. Let’s start with the crust. It’s made mostly of flour – from wheat grown by a farmer, milled by a miller, packaged by someone else, transported by someone else, sold by someone else yet again, before it eventually gets used by Luigi.
And Luigi also bought eggs that ended up in the dough as a result of yet another set of collaborators including a different farmer, a refrigerated truck driver, a bunch of other people, and of course chickens. This goes for the salt, yeast and all the other ingredients it takes to make a decent pizza crust.
And we haven’t even started on the sauce and toppings
The level of collaboration, communication and shared expertise it takes to make a pizza is staggering. And putting together a pizza is deliciously simple when compared to say, putting together a Boeing 747.
Whatever your business, whatever your product, chances are there are people and processes involved and if those people and processes don’t work together, can’t communicate effectively, or innovate efficiently – your pizza will taste like cardboard, and your plane will crash.
But what does pizza have to do with improv?
Well, if you wanted to invent a new pizza you could use “yes, and” or divergent thinking to come up with all the toppings that haven’t tried yet, and then use convergent thinking to land on the next big pizza trend, anchovy and beetroot for example.
Whether not that sounds delicious is irrelevant. As Peter Diamandis famously said, “the day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea. And crazy ideas are very risky to attempt.”
Improv teaches you to take risks, to experiment, to embrace failure, and explore what’s possible. Trying new things on a pizza, the stakes are low. But on the job, we tend not to take risks at all because if things go wrong, we get burned. But if you don’t try, you’ll be stuck eating boring old Margheritas for the rest of your career.
Speaking of which, even how we eat pizza is a lesson in improvisation and working together as an ensemble. Who gets the slightly larger slice? Who gets the last slice? Who will pay for it? If it’s getting delivered who will answer the door and who will set the table? Who will grab the beers? Is there gonna be salad? The point is, an improvisational approach to teamwork can even make mealtime a lot more pleasant, let alone work time.
To take this analogy to its final conclusion, if you’re not making delicious pizza in your business, or the crust keeps burning, or the distribution of toppings feels inequitable, or nobody can agree on which kind to order in the first place, maybe your team needs new tools for communication and collaboration.
And if you think anchovy and beetroot pizza sounds good, maybe you need new tools for innovation too, because those two things do not belong together.
Just like an improv show, a simple slice of pizza is the result of a multitude of people and processes playing together to deliver the whole.
Just don’t expect me to eat it if its got anchovies and beetroot on top.
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or in a review. I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz.
Or better yet, listen to the podcast.
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team.
You can learn all about PowerProv’s programs at powerprov.com.au
About One Word Suggestion
The One Word Suggestion series is your personal toolbox full of ways to help you use the power of improvisation to craft a more mindful and meaningful existence. Available as articles, a podcast, and soon, a book filled with powerful exercises for teams.
The One Word Suggestion Podcast with Eran Thomson
In each 3-minute episode, Eran uses a single word, suggested by listeners, as a leaping off point to explore how developing an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level personally and professionally.
Whether you aspire to be better on stage or on the job, this quick hit of improv inspiration is sure to bring you some insights, perspective, and joy.
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18 March · Season 1 : One Word Suggestion · Episode 32
One Word Suggestion: Pizza!
By Eran Thomson
Improv teaches you to take risks. Trying new things on a pizza, the stakes are low. But on the job, we tend not to take risks at all because if things go wrong, we get burned.