I recently finished The E-Myth Revisited, which proposed thinking of your small business as if you wanted to franchise it. Basically, what systems can you put in place to ensure consistently great experiences for your customers? What can be automated/ done by someone else so you can focus on the part of the job you enjoy most/ are best at? My first thought was that creativity, art and circus can’t (or shouldn’t), be automated or systematized. Upon further reflection I realized that during our own creation for Sweat & Ink with Barcode Circus Company I had already begun reflecting on our creative process- what elements make up a consistently enjoyable and productive creative process that might reliably make interesting new material?
While I can’t say I’ve found the secret formula to creativity or working well in a team, some ideas (I hesitate to call them “rules”) came to mind that worked well for our group that I suggest you try in your next cooperative creative endeavor. Below are a handful of tips that I believe contribute to a fun and productive physical creation.
Note: These tips are largely for the first, “exploring” phase of creation, which for us usually means improvising; rather than later steps that might include choreographing, structuring, polishing, etc.
1. Say what you need, even if you’re unsure
(This also comes in part from the book Non-Violent Communication)
When the leader of an improv/ research session is clear about what they’re asking of the others, even if they themselves are unsure what that is, it helps put the others in a mindset where they feel they will be able to successfully help the leader.
Example: “I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, but could we all try to walk around the room together with our heads touching?”
Specifying that you’re not sure of what you’re looking for gives permission to those that are improvising to propose things while still feeling that they’re contributing to the clarification of your vision (without risking ‘failing’ your vision). Maybe you think it could be a good idea to have three people play with a bar of soap and you don’t really have any expectations for it, you just want to see what happens. Say that…
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