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: Teamwork
There’s an exercise we run in some of our workshops called “One Word Story.” The object of the exercise is, as you can probably guess, for people to stand in line and tell a story together one word at a time. It doesn’t have to be a good or funny story, but it does have to make sense.
It sounds deceptively easy, and it can be if everyone is listening actively, speaking clearly, and working together. Part of the trick is for people to understand that sometimes they may need to say a boring word like “the” or “and.” These connecting words may not influence the plot of the story being told, but they are crucial to the story being told well.
In one group we had a CEO who really wanted to win the adulation and respect of his staff and to be seen as a funny and cool guy. So every time it was his turn to say a word he would say “bananas” and ruin the story.
He thought he was being hilarious but his team were getting more and more frustrated. Especially since the Facilitator kept asking them to start over and Mr CEO kept on saying “bananas.”
Finally, after several false starts, the CEO said the word that was most needed to make the most sense, and make the story work – and everyone cheered and high-fived in celebration.
He got what he was looking for, not by trying to be funny, but by doing what was necessary to tell a great story and make the whole group look good instead of just worrying about himself.
In every situation, whether it’s getting a product to market on time, delivering a campaign, meeting a client deadline, or telling the story of Sammy the Shark, it takes teamwork. And teamwork gets easier when everyone is operating with an ensemble mindset.
(For more on the ensemble philosophy check out episode seven.)
Improved collaboration and communication start when everyone understands that the shared wins are more important, and usually more fun. And that by making the people around you look good, you look good.
This unique approach to teamwork is a huge part of what we teach at PowerProv – and it’s powerful with huge potential for positive change inside an organisation.
And if you’re thinking “yeah yeah, but I’ve got some real challenging characters at my work,” then I encourage you to drag them to an improv class or book a corporate workshop for your team. Then wait and see how things improve.
I promise you the results will be bananas – but in a good way.
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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Learn about the best improv training for teams at PowerProv.
4 March · Season 1 : One Word Suggestion · Episode 30
One Word Suggestion: Teamwork
By Eran Thomson
Get what you want, not by trying to be bossy, funny or cool, but by doing what's necessary to make your whole group look good instead of just worrying about yourself.