The Joy of Co-creation

Co-creating makes stars!

After a broad overview of how to use improv principles in your business, I talked about making your partner look good.

And now the next principle…

Improv Principle: Discover the joy of co-creation
Business Reframe: Your business is built creating a dialogue WITH others, not by doing a monologue
Quote from a big-wig who gets it:

“Self sufficiency appears to be a worthy goal, but it’s now impossible if you want to actually get anything done. All our productivity, leverage and insight comes from being part of a community, not apart from it.  The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become more dependent, not less.”
Seth Godin – Best Selling author of Linchpin, Tribes, Purple Cow, Poke the Box and many other

I’ve always loved the lone bad-ass hero.  The guy that wanders into trouble with nothing but his own wits and single-handedly takes down a whole gang of baddies.  Batman, John McClain, Clint Eastwood, James Bond – those were the guys I always wanted to be.

But I noticed something recently – even the bad-asses don’t do it alone.  Batman has a team of people helping him with gadgets, police intelligence, and even a butler to make dinner.  John McClain had his friend Al on the walkie-talkie.  Eastwood always found allies in those foreboding spaghetti western towns.  And James Bond has all the resources of MI6 backing him up.

Improv comedy is very different from standup comedy.  No matter how it may look, a standup comic’s routine has been carefully and diligently crafted.  They may try some new material, or occasionally riff with the audience, but no standup gets on stage and “wings it”.  It’s not unheard of for good standup comics to spend a year or more developing just 45 minutes of good material (they probably work on 10 times that much, and then throw away 90 percent to get just the best material).

Improv is different.  Improv shows are co-created through the interaction of the players with each other and with the audience. Shows don’t rely on one performer being brilliant all night.  Occasionally a performer will be “on” and hit all the right notes all night, but that’s rare.  It’s more usual for one person to be the lead character in a show, and all the other players are working together to make a show.  Different night, different lead.  The co-creation process creates something completely new and different from anything any one performer could have created on their own (many improvisors refer to that as the “group mind”).

This is the way of modern business too.  Whether you’re part of a corporate team or a solo entrepreneur, you have to work with others.  Enjoy it – build off one another.  Work together to co-create something that’s better than any single person could create by themselves.  Co-create with you co-workers – listen to what they have to say and build off it, instead of dismissing it because it doesn’t follow YOUR plan.  Listen to your customers; build off what they have to say.  Don’t throw blind sales pitches around Facebook and Twitter – have a conversation with your social media followers.  Take their feedback and add to it.  Think about when the group-mind needs someone to take the lead and when it needs someone to make the lead look good.  Get comfortable in both roles. In the end, you’ll co-create something better than either of you could have created alone.

Even better – the pressure for you to be brilliant on your own will fade away.  You’ll find that brilliant ideas come a lot easier when you’re co-creating.