the rules of improv revisited

After months of putting Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants” on hold at the library, and forgetting to pick it up, I finally got around to reading it.  Hilarious and insightful and if you can handle a few F-bombs, I would recommend it.  Anyway, I was reminded of the rules of improv and how much I thought they could be applied to life as a technical artists.  I wrote about them earlier, so here’s a re-post.

I was talking with a co-worker  yesterday, and I was reflecting on how easy it is to be negative about what’s going on in my church.  Negative about leadership decisions.  Negative about direction.  Negative about people.  As a tech person, I think it is easy to be less than positive because things are always changing, or things are last minute, or I’m reacting  in fire drill fashion quite a bit.  It is easy to get cynical.

Tina Fey

Many tech people I talk to call it being a realist.  That may be true, since we tend to look at things from a “how can this be accomplished” perspective.  However, in my earlier years, and sometimes even now, I would lead with “this can’t be done”, or “this is stupid” or “I don’t have time for your creative ideas”.

A different co-worker, later on the same day was talking about Tina Fey’s book “Bossy Pants” and her rules of improv and how they apply to everyday life.  I like them because they speak toward a more positive way handle situations that could really help us tech people, not just in how we approach life, but how we are then perceived by others.

 Start with Yes. –  So often the answer to someone’s idea can be no, simply because there aren’t enough resources of money or time to pull it off.  This shuts things down pretty quick and then forces the person with the idea to come up with something else.

Say yes, and… – If we are able to say yes, then offer a few solutions to pulling off the idea, often times a new, creative and more importantly, a doable idea comes to the surface.

Make statements, don’t ask questions all the time – If we are good tech people, our job is to ask questions to get to the root of what needs to happen.  However, working with non-tech people means that we need help them understand what can and can’t be done, not just assume they know that an idea is crazy difficult.

 There are no mistakes, only opportunities – This sounds pretty cliche, but I really believe that for us to improve and get better as tech people, we need to push ourselves.  This means mistakes will happen.  What we do with the mistakes is what matters.  Will you repeat the same mistakes over and over or will you make adjustments to make sure you learn from mistakes.

How can you apply them to situations you face every day?  How could the rules of improv help how you work with others?  


Creative Commons License photo credit: Gage Skidmore