10 THINGS ARCHITECTS COULD LEARN FROM IMPROV
1. Teamwork. One can not do it all alone. Sorry divas and Starchitects! Improv teams play well together. Each member of a scene has a purpose and asks themselves, “How can I contribute to the larger picture?” In improv, the better you make your partners look the better you look. Truth is: in improv, everyone is a supporting actor. Hmmm…
2. Play to be creative. Improv actors are trained to play… like when we were kids. If you watch kids play, they are not self conscious. They are uninhibited. They accept, extend, and advance each others play cues. They are open, curious, and laughing. To be creative, in a group setting, particularly in charrettes… if we learn to “accept” one’s ideas, then “extend” it by building on it, and lastly “advance” the idea by basing another idea off of it, we could see more fruitful results.
3. Storytelling. Good improv teams are great storytellers. Architects can learn to communicate the design problem and tell the storied solution from improv actors. After all, how does one take audience suggestions like, “reality TV,” “U2 concert,” and “Leonardo DiVinci” and make it work in a scene!?
4.Performance. Improv can help take stage fright and nerves and use them to your advantage. It will make you fearless. During presentations, own the nerves and don’t forget that every time there is a presentation there is still a need for some performance aspect. One thing I learned from doing improv is that the audience is always rooting for you to succeed. Know that… and check your zipper before hand. If the meeting goes awry, then be confident in having no idea what’s going on.
5. Be agreeable. There is a golden rule in improv called, “Yes, and…” That is, in improv, instead of being able to negate a new idea or direction your partner comes up with, you are required to agree with your partner; and then add information. Doing this takes one from being a listener to a contributor. It advances ideas and dialogue. This can be useful in design charrettes and collaborative settings.
6. Be open-minded. Improv actors can not go into a scene with a preconceived idea and wait to play it. If they do, they will miss some cues and ideas a partner may have thrown out there. And then the scene gets weird. Same goes for design.
7. Justification. In improv there are all sorts of absurdities, mistakes, and contradictions. In a good scene, the actors tie everything together and justify everything. Architects can do the same thing. There are always last minute program requirements that impact massing. We can learn to improvise the design and make sense of changes.
8. Ask questions better. Questions should give more than they take. In fact, don’t ask questions if you can avoid it. Make a statement. There is ownership in a statement. Take a position and see it through.
9. Pay attention to detail. Improv actors listen and observe everything in a scene well. Details lead to the objective. Details will lead architects in developing creative solutions as well. If we are not mindful of details, we will end up just spinning our wheels and making decisions on false pretenses.
10. No agenda for creativity. Set a time a place to be creative. In improv, it’s during a show and the stage is dark and empty. The same could be for architects. Set up a brief time and place. The time shouldn’t be more than 1-1/2 to 2 hours. After that, we lose focus. Shorter, intense meetings are better than longer disheveled meetings. Have a unique place where the creativity can happen. It should be quiet and secluded and permit creativity to occur.
via John Gresko, Project Architect | Chicago, IL, USA