29 April 2009 0 By Viv McWaters

colur-burstI’ve been reading Everything’s An Offer by Rob Poynton & Gary Hirsh. It’s the sort of book that I’ll come back to often, and will have to re-read because of the many insights relating to applying improv theatre principles in business, and life. Unlike many other books about improv which focus on the form itself, this one focuses on effects and implications.

I’ve just finished the chapter on colour-advance. It’s a ripper.

I’ve known of this game for a long time. Basically it gives the audience some control over the story by giving them the option of asking for colour – more information, detail, depth – or advance – move the story forward.

While I have thought of using this for presentations (although I’m yet to find a presenter willing and flexible enough to try it) Rob suggests many, many ways of applying colour-advance.

As the owner of a small business, I was really struck by using colour-advance as as analytic tool to look at new business ideas. Colour is about adding another flavour of something that already exists, for example, facilitation training. While advance is about a completely new direction or product.

Rob says: “Creating a genuine advance might take longer and require more investment, but it will yield a more dramatic and lasting impact. So if you decide to set out to create a new product that is an advance, you will know you need to be more patient and put more resources behind it. If, on the other hand, you are focusing primarily on colour, then perhaps you can afford to be less cautious or risk-averse. You might use a more flexible, agile development process, take decisions more quickly and instinctively and get your product into the market quicker.”

This understanding of colour-advance is also a good tool to use when facilitating; providing a framework to assess innovation or new product ideas.

I’ve been pretty good at providing colour. Advance is another story, and something I’d like to focus more on. I suspect this requires collaboration too.