Steve Portigal on Improv and Creativity

Yesterday I hit an IXDA free event at RGA. Steve Portigal gave an awesome talk on Improv and its implications/applications to UX design and research.

He generously put up his slides here…which, had I known he was going to do, Maalik and I might not have taken such furious notes!

One idea from his talk that blew me away was this diagram. Everyone defines the norm in relation to themselves. I don’t know if everyone considers themselves in the center of their bell-curve reality…but everyone thinks of their behavior in relation to others. “I am more _____ than my friends” is a great thing to walk away with. When people describe their behavior, make sure you get the context they see themselves in.

His performance was really the big take-home for me. Steve created an environment where people shared, we unafraid to fail and were open. A lot of questions centered around this. How can we create a culture (or cultural moment) for ourselves or our clients where people can share ideas unhindered by fear or the “editor” that stops good (and bad) ideas? A great message was: Come up with bad ideas. Try that out. “what if we made poisonous cereal?”

I think once you relax into the possibility of failure, success is easier. There’s less fear. Getting up to do the “one word story” exercise I was, at first, nervous. I wanted to do well. And then I said to myself “screw it up. fail spectacularly.” And then I could relax and participate in the game, fully.

I’m looking forward to doing more of that.


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