conference room combat to improv jazz – true story


This is a true story of Improv Leadership creating more dynamic presentations.

This is a guest post from a good friend and colleague of mine, Eric. He is a senior healthcare architect who has mastered the art of co-design with his clients using improv leader and solution-focus techniques. Here’s his story:

My work as a healthcare planner requires a capacity to talk about complex medical issues and translate those issues into a spatial solution for my firm’s clients; there is, of course, never enough time, space or money!

In the past, those meetings have been “conference room combat” for me, now they are “improv jazz”!

The difference?

  • I have come to recognize that the best solution is not “my solution” but is truly owned by the folks who will use the end result (the implemented plan). By freeing myself up from the presumption that, as the “planning expert” I must generate the “best plan”, I create the opportunity for me to participate freely in the dialogue.  That dialogue, in turn, is free to head into unexpected turf and unconventional, but effective solutions.
  • Once I frame alternatives as potentials for them to review, criticize, examine, take apart and reassemble, clients actually respect my professional skills more, rather than less.  It removes the “yes/no” charge from discussions about solutions, and directs the discussion into the wonderful grey area of “what if?” where true can emerge.  We focus intuitively on the positive and the potential, and view obstacles as opportunities to be mastered!
  • By engaging in dialogue, my clients understand that I view their expertise and experience as critical to the process.  When clinicians are invited to participate, they focus on real issues, rather than “grandstanding” or politicizing the process.

In “conference room combat”, someone may appear to win, but ultimately, everyone loses. The end product suffers.  By creating an environment that allows fluidity of thought everyone has a voice at the table, and the result is an improvisational work session that can truly lead to better, more dynamic and optimal solutions.

Eric R. Lautzenheiser, AIA, ACHA

Director of Health Facilities Planning

Francis Cauffman

If you have a story to share and want to be a guest blogger here, let me know.

Explore posts in the same categories: Improv Leadership, Influence, Real life stories, Solution-focus

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One Comment on “conference room combat to improv jazz – true story”

  1. Bob Faw Says:

    it’s been a real pleasure watching Eric flourish and expand as he’s used the improv leadership approaches at work. His presentation style is so much more dynamic, engaging and compelling.


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