Masterclass: Innovation Workshop
I recently attended a fascinating masterclass on innovation called “Finding Ways Forward”, part of an ongoing collaboration with the Royal College of Art . It was led by Jan Sargent, who is an experienced TV, film and theatre director and teacher of directing skills. Five leaders of innovation workshops attended, including myself, bringing with us tough, topical business challenges that needed to be overcome.
What made this masterclass so interesting was the fact that there were two professional actors present. We each briefed the actors (and the other participants) about our challenges and the people involved. We then, all of us, improvised a series of hypothetical conversations as actors in that story (needless to say the two professional actors took on the critical roles).
I found that the attitudes and reactions of the actors often opened our eyes to aspects of our problems and to different ways in which one might handle them. The improvisations helped highlight barriers and blockages, and forced us all to look at things from different viewpoints. It was very enlightening and reminded me how important it is to know what the needs and motivations are of those people one must persuade or bring on side in one’s day to day work.
The day also highlighted the difficulties that innovation projects and initiatives can often encounter in working with other managers and group directors, especially in cases where their primary concern is for delivering day to day projects on time and on budget.
Workshops like these can help those of us working in the innovation space analyse challenges and barriers, identify interventions and enhance skills in working together with others. They are invaluable for helping align understanding within organisations, and they also allow one to learn from the experiences of others in different organisations.
The masterclass was successful in large part due to Jan’s skill at facilitating and directing, and to the quality of the actors that took part. Her knack for building trust and providing a safe space in which participants can open up was extraordinary.