Summer Rules, Applied Improvisation, and the Complequity Tool

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Summer is, by far, my most favorite season. It’s no wonder that the Solid Fire Consulting logo looks a little like a Summer sun ablaze or the volunteer sunflower in our front yard:

It’s not that I particularly love the sticky, suffocating heat that blankets Brooklyn this time of year; it’s that I adore how Summer plays by its own rules, breaking free from the rest of the seasons.

Ahhhhhh! Summer. It plays by it’s own rules.

1. Delight in the senses.
Summer invites you to walk barefoot, eat too much ice cream, get pummeled by waves at a city beach.

2. Embrace emergence.
Summer is about not knowing what will happen next. Picnic in the park? Yes! Sit on the stoop watching fireflies? Absolutely! Meet you for an outdoor movie? Why not!

3. Dance at the edge where chaos and order meet.
Summer means my phone no longer jolts me awake every morning to hustle my kids out the door for school. These days, I wake up with the morning light, free to loll around or meditate for a bit, not quite sure what will happen next. Sometimes I even get to read….


Ahhhhhh! Summer. A good time to read.
Currently, I’m diving into a new work that speaks to an abiding interest I have in using creative, emergent modalities to support organizational transformation. Applied Improvisation: Leading, Collaborating, and Creating Beyond the Theatre, edited by Theresa Robbins Dudeck and Caitlin McClure, is rich with organizational development case studies that employ improvisatory, interactive approaches to support work in varied settings, from building resiliency in oncological nursing to decolonizing diversity education in predominantly white institutions. It is beautifully written, with detailed write-ups of meaningful activities that are easy to implement, energizing, and fun.

If you are willing to walk the edge of chaos in a classroom free of hierarchies, where process and problem-posing are more important than problem-finding, where empathy, respect, and authenticity are crucial, and where learning and creation emerge from the collective efforts and experiences of all participants, then you are ready for improvisation. Applied Improvisation is changing the way we lead, create, and collaborate. It also brings joy into this uncertain, crazy world.


Ahhhhhh! Summer. Time to share some news.

On a related front, I am launching a new organizational culture tool, the Complequity Organizational Assessment Tool™.

Organizational culture includes policies, rules, habits, and traditions that in their totality embody the core values at the heart of an organization’s work. Organizational culture is like the air we breathe. We may not notice it, but it is crucial to internal organizational functioning and resilience, which in turn affects intended organizational impact in the world.
The focus of the Complequity Organizational Assessment Tool™ is less about capturing how organizations intend to conduct themselves (such as with formal policies and procedures) and more about what is actually going on when people work together. It taps into the following five areas which are crucial to ensuring non-profit resilience and meaningful social impact:

  1. Alignment in values and purpose,
  2. The use of equity and inclusion practices,
  3. Values-aligned and inclusive practices in communication, decision-making, and conflict,
  4. The ability to work with emergence, innovation, and collaboration to address complex challenges, and
  5. The presence of group-level reflection and self-care practices.

The work of social change organizations, communities, and philanthropies is inherently complex, with multiple moving parts and players. It is crucial that non-profit organizational culture be nimble, inclusive, and self-reflective, so that together we can take on the many complex, non-linear challenges affecting our world.

In October, I will be leading an interactive workshop on the tool at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference. I would love to see you there!

Improvisation is joy! Improvisation is a spirit, it is a living thing, and it is a being that alters our reality, a natural force like the wind, ocean, and rain. Improvisation is a bird in flight, it is also gravity. Improvisation is a ritual that helps us to seek the higher self. A kinetic flow that allows us to reach for limitless landscapes of possibility using the known and unknown.

William Parker, bassist, composer, activist
(Quoted in Applied Improvisation and friend of my husband/musician Andrew Drury)

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