Creativity and Collaboration are recognized as important challenges by the Information Systems community. And Improvisation is seen as a state-of-the-art potential solution. How can I tell ? Well, our mini-tutorial,
“Improvisational Theater for Information Systems:
Breathing Collaboration and Creativity into your Developments”
has been invited at RCIS’12, the 6th international conference on Research Challenges in Information Science, to be held in May, in Valencia, Spain. This time it’s closer than RE’10, in Sydney (see post). The outline of the tutorial illustrates what can be done in 90 minutes, the real minimum for a discovery of what improv can do for creativity and collaboration in development teams.
Outline of the tutorial
1) Introduction (10’): We first briefly define creativity, motivate the need for it, and then expose some theoretical bases that establish the link between improv and creativity.
2) Awareness exercise (10’): This first exercise will raise group awareness and open people’s mind for the remainder of the session. It will already reveal the difficulties of establishing an efficient communication channel, and ways to tackle them.
3) Warm-up exercise (10’): From this moment on, people remove their tie or sweat-shirt, if any, and are ready to go.
4) “Chairs” exercise (20’): Now, we play a simple game that illustrates well the complexity of managing responsibilities in groups. Some people take too many initiatives, others never do. Some try to direct the others, some shout, some panic…The solution – which we don’t disclose here! – will be found by the participants through trial and error.
5) “Goalkeeper” exercise (20’): Here we will ask participants to play around with personas. This will help them cope with their inhibitions, dare collecting the ideas that are in them, essentialize their messages into a clear and actionable form. Participants will be challenged on their reactivity and will realize how far they are ready to accept and build upon proposals from others. This exercise also serves as a brainstorming session to enrich the personas for the next exercise.
6) Creative Session (20’): It’s time to put things into practice. So we will pretend that we are a group of stakeholders willing to invent a new software product. We will use guided improvisations as an experience-based design technique, inventing user stories on the fly, and commenting them in order to specify what our product should or should not do.