I found a great thought last week from Let’s Play Innovation:

An increasing number of professionals are being trained in improvisation skills. It helps them to play with their environment instead of controlling it.

It grabbed my attention because I’d visited Second City while I was in Chicago at the beginning of the month to watch an improv show.

A great deal of innovation / disruption / creativity comes out of the ability to improvise within your environment. I think it is a true-ism to suggest that ‘control’ can be an enemy of creativity and innovation. When I think of ‘play’ I think of (borrowing from Let’s Play Innovation again):

  • Play doesn’t try to contain what is open.
  • Play doesn’t make simple what is complex.
  • Play doesn’t isolate what is a network.
  • Play doesn’t make static what is dynamic.

I went in search of an example of improv at work that would illustrate this. I found The Subway Spa by Improv Everywhere.

We turned a very hot New York City subway platform into an unauthorized luxury spa. NYC’s un-air-conditioned platforms can feel like a sauna in the summer, so we figured we might as well embrace the heat

A fun example of improv within an environment, and delivering a surprising, fun and interesting result.