Improvisation

    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    Journeyman LogoI had the pleasure of participating in the debut performance evening of the Indigan Storytellers group last Friday night. As Rocky Balboa once said “you shoulda been there.” It was an intimate evening of exquisitely told stories coupled with fine hand-crafted whiskey. The location was Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan.

    The room was packed and a good time was had by all.

    I report on the event here for two reasons. First, because Storytelling as an art form is creativity of the highest order. Innovators of all kinds have much to learn about the craft as a method to elaborate new inventions, messages, and brands. Learning how to write and then perform a 10 minute story is an exercise all innovators would learn something important from doing. Another approach to using story is being pioneered by my KILN partner, Kate Hammer, Phd. Her StoryForms tool is another way to explore story in a way relevant to invention, innovation, and branding (@StoryFORMing)

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    Daniel Waterhouse, Storyteller

    The second reason is about the role of community formation in creativity and innovation. Culture is where creativity lives — and a rich arts culture is the prepared ground for jobs, corporate innovation, and stable communities. This is true for geographic communities as well as the communities that form within organizations. Richard Florida has done a lot of research around how innovation happens in cities and towns. Essentially, creative people move to places where a rich arts culture exists.  San Francisco and Austin are big city examples. Three Oaks, an unlikely candidate, is rapidly emerging as the small town example. Indigan is the newest reason why. A nod here to the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks as the area cornerstone for arts culture formation.

    Indigan Storytellers is creating a community of like minded artists in southwest Michigan. The word Indigan is a mash-up of Indiana and Michigan. Credit to the founders for not defaulting to Michiana. Founders include poet and consultant Roger Batton of Three Oaks, Michigan and nationally known storyteller and screenwriter, Daniel Waterhouse. Dan is from South Bend which is the biggest city in Michiana. Roger told a powerful story about self-discovery — involving a crazy sheepdog, pacifism, and rage. Dan told three stories, one better than the next. My favorite was a new story about love at first sight.

    Indigan Storytelling performers included:

    • Colleen Newquist, an award winning writer — Colleen told a well crafted story about luck and communication with departed loved ones.
    • Rick Tuttle a Three Oaks based painter and poet — told a story about the power of words to hurt, reveal personality, and redeem with laughter.
    • Mary Dean Cason also an award winning writer (www.marydeancason.com) — told a rollicking and humorous story with a grand southern drawl, about a classic mis-understanding.
    • Myself, Gregg Fraley, my contribution was a hopefully humorous story about recognizing who I am as a person, titled “Goofball.”
    • Phil Bonello, a rounder, reprobate and good family man, told a wacky story about the hijinks of grad students, and finally,
    • Stephanie Medlock, a published novelist (The Lives of Things, www.swilsonmedlock.com) gave us a Mad Men-esque vision of NYC and coming of age as a woman.

    If you are a Michiana resident, keep an eye out for Indigan Storyteller events. If you’re an innovator, it’s time to revisit the power of story.

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    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I

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    Orin Davis Report from World Innovation Forum

    The following are thoughts from Orin Davis, Phd, who is covering the World Innovation Forum. As always, Orin makes some good points, notes from talks from the Mayor of Asheville, NC, the On Your Feet Improv group, and Michael Martin of Vibram. So, here’s what you missed at WIF. ****** Ideas from the World Innovation Forum  (by Orin Davis, Phd) With some speakers, you just have to be there to really get the marrow of what they have to say, but here are some piquant ideas from speakers at the World Innovation Forum:  Terry Bellamy — Mayor of Asheville, NC Make an investment in a sustainability endeavor, and keep reusing the savings in other sustainability endeavors to have sustainable infrastructure

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    Spontaneous Thinking and the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Jonathan Winters

    “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.” Jonathan Winters Last week, a personal hero of mine, Jonathan Winters, passed away. He had a long, full, complicated, crazy, and indeed, mad, mad, mad, mad, life. If you don’t know who he is or why I’d be doing a post about him in a creativity and innovation blog, please just go to YouTube and watch this. If you really want to snort milk through your nose, try this one. Winters was a comic genius, a creative tour-de-force, and, a man who “used” his affliction with bi-polar disorder positively. He was one of the first public figures to admit to treatment for mental illness having “gone to the zoo”

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    Gonzeaux #8 — Florida

    I spent most of the past week in the great state of Florida. While I hardly exhausted the potential of it’s vast expanse and endless coastline, I did get a gonzeaux dose of it. The FEI 2012 Conference lived up to it’s billing and reputation as the “serious” innovation conference. Hard to summarise, but let me try: great, insightful, relevant speakers, interesting interactions with both participants and vendors, and lots of fun and conversations around the edges. All about innovation of course. It’s expensive, but it you’re serious about innovation at your organisation and want to be aware of trends in the “industry” it’s well worth going. I made some great connections for KILN, which was my personal goal in

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    Get Attention in Six Seconds — Or Have a Hindenberg Disaster

    For about three years in the early 80′s I was a stand-up comic. It was a humbling experience. I was bad. Really, really, bad — particularly at first. There is nothing quite like “dying” on stage as a stand-up, think the Hindenberg disaster. Multiply by 10 your most humiliating experience — that will give you some idea. Stand-up audiences have a notoriously short fuse for inauthentic, not-funny, boring, stupid, or pretentious comic wanna-be’s. Basically, you have a brief moment to get their attention and hold it. If you haven’t got the attention of a group in the first six seconds — and this is true for any presentation — you are on your way to death. Business groups may be

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    How To Be Open Minded, 5 Ways To Inspire Innovation

    Some people have no idea what it means to have a “Generative Discussion.” A generative discussion is when people talk, and in the process of discussing something, use a bit of vision, imagination, and ideation. Entrepreneurs and inventors are good at this; they tend to always be looking for the opportunity in what’s being talked about. “What If…” or “Wouldn’t it be Cool If…” or “How Might We…” are phrases you often hear. Now dig, I’m not talking about brainstorming (in any of its many forms and definitions).  I’m talking about, well, talking — but with a creative twist. Creative talking, Innovative talking (aka a Generative Discussion) is more than debate — which is usually about proving how right you

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    Adapting Improv Games to Ideation/Problem Solving

    I am often asked about how improv can be used in Idea Generation. I’m asked because I’ve done improv in Chicago at the schools there (IO and Players Workshop of Second City) and I do Idea Generation as a business.  While I’m not a serious candidate for Whose Line Is It Anyway, I have learned, and integrated, the basics into how I think. As for Idea Generation/Brainstorming/Corporate Problem Solving it’s practically all I do these days, so, I’d likely make that All Star team. Call me the spitballer who mixes pitches like structured problem solving and improvisation. Let me state it simply:  You can adapt classic comedy improvisation games to help solve serious business problems.  You can use these adapted

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