Improvisation for consultants

 Improvisation for consultants (and life in general)

Apologies, we have had to postpone the October 2018 workshop until 2019.
We will post new dates and details when we have them.

Improvisation for Consultants is a two day workshop led by Steve Chapman and Caryn Vanstone in which we will explore the idea that organisations are not things to be manipulated and controlled but complex, responsive social processes in which we participate and influence. What are the implications and practical skills of this for leaders and consultants working with complex change in a live and improvised way?

Design is important, never more than today. Good design and thoughtful planning is central to good intervention in organisation. But then we come into contact with people and they never quite fit with our best laid plans!  And thank goodness for that – because it is the adaptation, resistance, customisation and alteration of our plans that actually make them work in local conditions. This results in real locally owned change.

For change consultants, HR professionals, change agents and developers, both working internally and externally in organisations, the capacity to work with authority and confidence on the boundary between planning and design, and emergence and responsiveness is critical to creating engagement and locally owned change. It requires a new and fresh approach to the notion of “control” and “presence”. Lessons from comedy, theatre and jazz improvisation are proving to be incredibly useful in this context. An improviser on stage has no choice but to perform (for a paying audience) while creating and re-creating the performance itself “live” as an emergent flow between themselves and others. And there are some game-changing principles – “rules” and behaviours that make this not just possible – but a wonderfully professional, effective, life-giving and nourishing way of working.

Caryn Vanstone’s work is all centred on helping ‘stuck’ organisations discover new energy, engagement, innovation and speed – while growing their sense of accountability and ethical decision making. For me, adult accountability comes as a result of freedom and responsibility – not in the absence of it (that is just compliance at best, and subversion at worst). So working to release people to make fast, disciplined, socially responsible and innovative decisions together is right at the essence of agile, cost-effective and sustainable organisations. To this work I bring a combination of deep study in psychology, sociology and applied neuro-science .. along with over 20 years of practical experience and experimentation in applied improvisation – working alongside comedians, jazz musicians and theatre coaches. Having started this interest as an internal OD specialist, I moved to external consulting in 1999 and have worked since with many of the world’s largest companies.

Steve Chapman - March 2015 (Hi res colour)Steve Chapman is interested in spontaneity, creativity and being playful with not knowing.   He specialises in crashing together ideas from the complexity sciences, gestalt psychology and various therapeutic creative practices to help individuals and organisations navigate their way through change in a way that is more responsive, lively and innovative.  He holds an MSc with distinction in organisational change and is visiting faculty on the Ashridge Business School and Metanoia Organisational Development MSc programmes.  In addition to this Steve has trained in improvisation with Keith Johnstone (Loose Moose, Calgary), John Cremer (The Maydays, Brighton), Neil Mullarkey (The Comedy Store, London) and the late Jason Chin (iO, Chicago) and in mask work with Steve Jarand, Trestle Theatre and Strangeface Theatre. He has also undertaken a foundation programme in Art Therapy. He is the author of “Can Scorpions Smoke? Creative Adventures in the Corporate World.”