Алексей Каптерев (kapterev) wrote,
Алексей Каптерев

Contact improvisation and small-scale project management

Traditional planning boils down to setting goals, creating a plan meant to achieve the goals and then following the plan. There are two main problems with tradidional planning: new information and no new information.

New information means volatility: life often does not go like we plan so our plans become inefficient. No new information means boredom. If everything goes like we plan, if no surprises happen — we became disinterested. So the need for more agile, spontaneous methods of project management emerge.

The key problem of spontaneous project management is in keeping commitments. It is very hard to rely on the people who "just go with the flow" and therefore might not show up at some improtant meeting just because they "didn't feel like being there". At the same time, being present at the meeting you hate is no big help either.

Contact Improvisation has its way of dealing with this problem. A person dancing CI is committed to a dance rather than to a partner. If the dance is not happening for you — you are free to quit. However, smashing partner to the ground is still unacceptable. So it will be avoided for the sake of the dance — rather than just for the sake of the partner. That creates a relatively free yet structured process, quite frequently resulting in enjoyable experience for the both partners and sometimes — for the audience.

Additionally, while working with the audience, dancers create "scores" — sets of commitments, that make interaction even more structured. These scores are communicated between the participants in advance. They are usually quite simple.

As Dee Hock, a former chairman of Visa once noticed, simple and clear rules sometimes result in complex, intelligent and beautiful behavior. Complex rules mostly result in either chaotic or fairly dumb behavior. Rules work well if one can recall them.

Another important part seems to be error-handling: what happens if the commitment is not being fulfilled. Dancers spend time learning how to fall gracefully and safely so even being smashed to the ground does not result in dare consequences that could have happened otherwise.

It seems to be a good idea to keep track of commitments — as well as of constraints. Unlike commitments, constraints are things that we percieve as being beyond our control.

In CI the constraints are mostly physical: forces of gravity and momentum, physical limits of the body. A great deal was said about surrendering to those constraints but at the same time people challenge the constraints constantly by trying to cheat or temporaily deny gravity.

To conclude:

1. Make a list of constrains and commitments for your project (how? still unclear)
2. Create error handling procedures.
3. Communicate these to the parties involved.
4. Regularly review and update the list when new information comes to light.
5. Reserve time and safe space for challenging both constraints and commitments.
Tags: english, personal development, somatics
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