The Role of Improvisation in Processes of Innovation
Proceedings of the Participatory Innovation Conference, January 12-14, 2012, Melbourne, Australia
9 Pages Posted: 23 May 2012 Last revised: 12 Jul 2012
Date Written: January 13, 2012
In this paper, we explore innovation, as an inherently uncertain process, from a complexity perspective in which innovation is understood as new patterns of experiences, as they emerge in human conversational interaction. By reflecting on local interactions between people involved in processes of innovation, in three particular organizations for which one of the authors acted as consultant/researcher, we explore the improvisational nature of interaction by relying on a set of experiences of improvisational theatre. These experiences show, amongst others, that such processes are collective efforts that take place as ordinary conversations, which sometimes unpredictably turn into windows of opportunities to enable change. We introduce the notion of invitations, by which we mean conscious or unconscious moves that encourage the involved people to take spontaneous moves together in a mutually improvised context. We argue that such situations and the following interactions can possibly have a long-term impact on organizational processes. We also discuss implications for managers and consultants who work with processes of change in innovation.
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