An Invitation to Thrive

Posted by  GeoffBrown —May 29, 2012
Filed in Leadership, Living Systems & Complexity, Yes!And Improv

At it’s heart, the Thriving in Uncertainty Conference is a collaboration between Melbourne Playback Theatre & an international community known as AIN (Applied Improvisational Network) – the first regional conference to be staged in Australia.

Our hosts and diverse array of presenters will be sharing their vast knowledge and experience sothat you can explore the power and transformative nature of improvisational approaches.

It’s a two-day conference to inspire, educate and enthuse – in your workplace and community.

When – Thrs 12 & Fri 13 July, 2012

Where – Amora Hotel Riverwalk, Melbourne AUSTRALIA
649 Bridge Road, Richmond, VIC 3121

The premise of Thriving in Uncertainty

If we embrace the idea that an organisation is a living ecosystem, rather than a mechanistic model, how would we work with that larger consciousness? Paul Plsek likens this difference to that between throwing a stone and throwing a live bird (1). The trajectory of the stone can be calculated precisely using the mechanical laws of physics. The trajectory of the bird is emergent and far less predictable! The question is whether we can genuinely embrace this shift in perspective and add a layer of living tissue to the organisational machine.


(1) T.Bentley and J.Wilsdon 2003, ‘Introduction:The Adaptive State’, in T.Bentley and J.Wilsdon (eds) – The Adaptive State— Strategies for Personalising the Public Realm, Demos, London, p. 26.

The good news is that we don’t need to abandon everything we currently do. When dealing with technical problems, we still need efficient management, expertise and best practice processes. But on their own, rational, linear and individually-generated solutions are not up to the task. It’s not enough to just bring our brains to work. We need to access and apply our whole intelligence to problem-solving, creativity and innovation, especially in the face of global and local social and environmental issues.

The premise of this conference is that Applied Improvisation is a key driver for business and organisational success during times of uncertainty and change. Ironically, we all know how to improvise, but most of us spend too much time planning and never get to the improvisation part! And when you look at the cutting edge of business today, the most pioneering and successful companies are moving in exactly that direction. Their leaders know that innovation comes from a careful balance of planning and improvisation. By applying improv, their people are cultivating strong relationships and are being creative with limited resources. These organisations are deeply fulfilling to work with, enrich the communities they serve and are able to thrive in uncertainty.

Since being introduced to Applied Improv 5 years ago, it’s principles have reshaped the way I facilitate, parent and live life. In practice, applying improv has connected me to a deeper self, an authentic part of me that I never knew existed.

Some of my clients have joined me on this learning journey and a couple are coming to Thriving in Uncertainty on July 12 & 13. This gathering will bring together leaders, executives and managers, entrepreneurs, learning and development facilitators, trainers and educators, consultants and coaches – I can’t think of a better way to discover our inherent leadership capacities and go to the edges of our learning and development.

My Part in this Design

I have played a part in the design this conference with the Applied Improv Network (AIN) and Melbourne Playback Theatre. I am also offering a conference workshop titled Re-imagining Organisations as Living Systems.

I invite you to learning laboratory that explores questions like:

  • What if we think of organisations as living ecosystems? How would that change what we do and how we lead?
  • How can we learn from each other and our own experiences?
  • What can applied improv offer us as we try new ways of thinking and interacting?

These same questions are being explored in Montreal (Canada) in June this year. Thrivability Montreal brings together business leaders to explore new ways of thinking about and working in organisations. Our group will learn directly from the Montreal conversations. In fact, the design of this workshop is a collaboration between me and the Thrivability Montreal Network. I will integrate the key insights and examples of how organisations are applying improv to thrive in uncertainty and change.

Belina Raffy (below left) and Michelle Holliday are the hosts of the Thrivability Montreal Camp next month. I recently interviewed them and recorded this podcast. In the 3rd part of the podcast, we talk about the links between Thrivability Montreal and Thriving in Uncertainty. The key insights from Montreal will filter down to this workshop in Melbourne.

Belina’s Pecha Kucha presentation is also a good one to watch. In 6 minutes and 40 seconds, she describes her provocative proposition that Improv Can Save the World!

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