An attempt to make the outline for an Improv course even longer

Creative and Collaborative Challenges are coming……

Interdisciplinary Improvisation is not your typical course nor does it adhere to the literal constraints of a course outline. No matter how well I pre-organize and communicate the 13 sessions that you’ll experience in advance, as soon as we interact, the outline will change. There’s a reason for this sense of non-linearity in the course structure. The course targets the creative and collaborative challenges that individuals face when tasked to deliver tangible digital media artifacts together.


It would be great if these challenges appeared in sequential order so we could operationalize them, order them in concrete and visible ways so that we could make the appropriate adjustments to our creative and collaborative behaviours in advance. Sadly, no matter what the project pipeline, this is not the case. Think of this course as one that prepares you for those creative and collaborative challenges that seem to appear out of nowhere, when you least expect them and of course when you least want them to emerge. Some of those challenges that unexpectedly emerge when you work with others include:
  • Contending with the unpredictable reactions that other humans trigger in you and one another, particularly in high stress situations (real client), when you have all been placed together on the same project and told to make something functional in a small amount of time;
  • Dealing with the variety of experiences that others bring to the table and being able to figure out how to work with them, their personalities, their “well when I worked with other people (twice) I had this experience and so we should do it this way”;
  • Taking risks together in developing products that propose a new or novel way to solve a problem without really knowing if you can do it, how the product will be received, or if it will fail or succeed, etc..;
  • Finding ways to capture many many ideas from a brainstorm that can seem fleeting when they are only talked about;
  • Finding ways to manage your ideas together from inception to their wily development into barely working prototypes;
  • Solving problems the best way that you can with the skills that you possess, if only to let your solution die, as you realize it might not have solved the problem quite how you wanted it to;
These are only a handful. What other spontaneous challenges have you experienced when working creatively with others? How did you deal? How does your sense of creativity shift when you work with other people? What are the ideal situations where your creativity can thrive?

Preparing for the unexpected I unexpectedly prepared for the wrong expectation……

This course is ‘easy’ if you accept that it will shift, morph and change depending on what each of you bring into the room. You’ll do well in this course if you are open to taking the risk, exploring new possibilities, and being available to new creative and collaborative parts of you that you may not have yet explored. Be forewarned though, that no amount of premeditation can prepare you for the unique behaviors that others will bring out in you. At times it may feel like this……

With this course, though, you will practice some tools that may better prepare you to respond to the unexpected with grace and agility.


As an example, you’ll practice listening because it’s one of the most difficult challenges all collaborators face. How? A secret way musicians improve their listening abilities is to listen to polyphonic music—music that proposes more than one melody at the same time. Can you follow both at the same time?

With deeper listening, along with the acknowledgement of other people’s ideas, collaborations may go more smoothly. You’ll meet people who don’t listen. What do you do? You’ll meet people who misconstrue what you say? What do you do? You’ll meet people who say they understand you 100% then do or say something that contradicts or negates an idea you just proposed? WTF?

One way to understand how improvisation fits into not just the overall vision of the MDM Program, but into project pipelines, which, forms the bulk of your MDM activities is to identify aspects of a project pipeline that demand unplanned action on the part of you and/or your team whether those are related to creativity, collaboration or the management of both.


While I could tell you what some of these aspects or components are, these would only be based on my experience and what’s important will be for you to start your own process of reflection so you can identify them for yourself.

The rest is practice. The practice of improving you and your team’s response to those challenges that I guarantee you will come up. That’s one way where a course in improvisation fits in. In Improv class, you get to practice them. You also reflect on how they relate to you. And finally, my expectation of you throughout the course is to identify those creative and collaborative challenges that I may not have, so we can find a way to practice those together.

In practicing the ways that you and your team respond to emergent creative and collaborative problems, there is no guarantee that you’re going to ‘get it’ right away. The course is the beginning of a co-creative adventure and will provide you with many tools and make you more flexible in how you deal. From there, it’s all on you.

What are you willing to do to improve the way that you contend with these emerging challenges on project pipelines? I look forward to hearing your answers as the course develops.

I leave you with a before and after drawing that a former learner included in his journal regarding his journey through the improv course.