Herding Cats – Ascend

September 9, 2014 — Leave a comment


Last fall, for RallyEngine, I commissioned market research company Ipsos to survey large (100+ people) downtown Calgary organizations to find out how prepared for and communicated during the massive flooding in May 2013. One of the insights we gleaned from that study’s report was that many companies relied more on ad hoc reactions than on their prepared Emergency Response Plans. This was interesting and it got me curious about an arena of comedy that I’ve always enjoyed but never looked at seriously: improv.

There just so happens to be an improv theatre and school – Montreal Improv – a few blocks from where I live, so I gathered to courage to enroll – with the hopes of learning a few things about the craft of improvisation (in addition to meeting some new people, stretching my skills, and having some good fun). In eight months I’ve taken four 4-7 week sessions, progressing through three introductory levels. As a generally quiet introvert with no drama experience and an admittedly slow wit when it comes to jokes, it’s been very challenging. And very, very fun!

Indeed, I confirmed that improv can offer some incredibly useful lessons to real world situations – like the disaster management and business continuity realm that we were immersed in with RallyEngine. And around the same time we were also seeing how ideas and approaches familiar to startups like us could be of value to “establishment” organizations in law enforcement and public safety; groups that aren’t typically exposed to more nimble tactics. There’s a lot to this, I thought, and I used a speaking opportunity in May to flesh out the idea a little more.

What follows is a modified version of the first half of a deck – Herding Cats, Finding Kids, and Rallying Dispersed Teams in a Crisis – presented to an audience at the CPRS Ascend Summit on May 27, 2014 in beautiful Banff. This part on improv principles led quite smoothly into the second half (not included here), an overview by MCSC’s spitfire Executive Director Amanda Pick of their blossoming Search Program. It was well received.

More on this thesis to come later.

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