Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Nonprofits can apply improv to be at their creative best

innovativemindset cover“Honing a mindset of discovery and practicing innovation behaviors on a daily basis is the best way we can ensure that future generations will inherit a healthy planet and sustainable society that supports prosperity and happiness for all its members,” assert Innovative Mindset coauthors John Sweeney and Elena Imaretska.

Serious results created by comedic roots

Sweeney and Imaretska firmly believe a mindset of discovery is a key to success in our social sector. What’s more, they utilize what at first glance seems like an unlikely model to pursue innovation. It turns out that the skills and techniques practiced by improvisational actors are at the very core of what leaders need to be at their creative best.

The authors show you how living in the improv actor’s mindset of discovery can lead you to significant productivity. If you can successfully implement what they call the “Big Five” behaviors in your everyday life, you can:

become a better communicator,

be more comfortable with risk,

build your confidence, and

reduce judging others and yourself.

The Innovative Mindset is a practical guide that lets you integrate its lessons into your day-to-day interactions with people. Yet, only through dedication to your “fitness plan” that develops the “Big Five” behaviors. One of the behaviors I wanted to highlight in today’s post is about deferring judgment.

Deferring judgment means pausing and accepting the potential of ideas and opinions.marketingmag-com

This behavior does not mean eliminate or avoid judgment. You need to judge to make good decisions but waiting to judge allows you to explore new possibilities and potential. Deferring judgment allows us to hold off fear of threats, experience empathy and think more complexly.

Assume the new information is neutral. “When we defer judgment, we create the space that’s needed to allow the next part of innovation to happen.” Often, you buy time to find the good in the situation. The authors give the example of waiting to respond to an email. If you wait, it allows you to check your emotional reactions and see the emailer’s point of view.

Below is the specific advice to defer judgment:

Muscles to exercise: “pausing, employing gratitude, embracing ‘what if” versus ‘it’s not going to work because,’ letting go of preconceived notions and biases, and calming your emotions to let the cortical brain do its work.”gettingsmart-com

Tactics to practice: “1. Take a timed pause before responding [you choose your time frame]. 2. Say thank you—and really mean it—before responding. 3. Say ‘yes, and’ as a conjunction. 4. Survey your body and relax it intentionally. Breathe. 5. Put yourself in other people’s shoes to find value in their points of view.”

Possible deferring judgment workouts: Stage family debates where you argue both sides. Take the implicit bias test from Harvard Business School ( and remind yourself with images that address the biases you reveal. Practice meditation and breathing exercises to calm your emotions. Think through a current challenge from the perspective of your friends and colleagues to see how they might solve it.

While the authors acknowledge that deferring judgment is one of the most challenging of the five behaviors to master, the results are worth the effort. Try deferring judgment in your next meeting when creativity is called for and agree upon it with your colleagues before you start.

How did it change the tone of your meeting and the number of ideas that were generated? For more information about the Innovative Mindset, visit the the authors ( or or learn more about our Page to Practice book summary.

See also:

Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries





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Bolster traditional planning with small bets

So you’ve done your strategic plan and everyone’s on the same page. What about the unanticipated opportunities or challenges that always arise?

You need a more nimble means for responding to and acting on the changing environment around you, according to Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. Sims endorses an approach that requires making good use of small experiments by repeating, refining and perfecting for large wins.

Look at experimental innovation as helpful in building up a solution rather than starting with what you suspect is the answer and planning around it. Sims reminds us that creative teams that use the little bets approach aren’t trying a lot of ideas to see what sticks; rather, they are rigorous, analytical, strategic and pragmatic about their innovation. The principles Sims introduces in Little Bets are not meant to facilitate a step-by-step process. Instead, they are meant to guide productive creativity.

The Little Bets approach has some fundamentals. Sims says we should:

Experiment: Learn by doing. Fail quickly and learn fast. Develop experiments and prototypes to gather insights, identify problems and build up to creative ideas.
Play: A playful, improvisational and humorous atmosphere quiets our inhibitions when ideas are incubating or newly hatched and prevents creative ideas from being snuffed out or prematurely judged.
Immerse: Take time to get out into the world and gather fresh ideas and insights in order to understand deeper human motivations and desires. Absorb how things work from the ground up.
Define: Use insights gathered throughout the process to define specific problems and needs before solving them.
Reorient: Be flexible in pursuit of larger goals and aspirations, making good use of small wins to make necessary pivots and chart the course to completion.
Iterate: Repeat, refine and test frequently, armed with the better insights, information and assumptions as time goes on.

For most of us, adopting this experimental approach requires a significant change in mindset. Many factors throughout our lives have accumulated to form tendencies away from little bets or entrepreneurial experimentation. For example, our education system is centered on teaching us facts and rewarding us for memorization. There is much less emphasis on teaching us to creatively think and discover for ourselves.

Those of us who are willing to embrace uncertainty and failure will reap remarkable results. Little Bets’ case study heroes rejoice in errors and surprises. The mere fact that Sims’ book is based on the notion of small discoveries leading to breakthrough ideas feels as if it was written for the nonprofit organization. Nonprofits, in truth, are built for small bets and big victories. Our budgets demand it. So if you can stomach the experimental failures and keep the board at bay while you do so, get ready for breakthrough ideas.

For more information about Peter Sims’ book, visit or Or you can learn more by dowloading the Little Bets Page to Practice feature at CausePlanet.

See also:

Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

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