Improvisation in Organisations

This blog is an investigation how improvisation can help to innovate and remain flexible. Is improvisation just something actors and jazz musicians use, or is it a style suitable for business professionals to cope with complexity and use their intuition? How can professionals really work freely within the given framework of for example a project plan? What does the world of science say about improvisation?

Permalink I’m the author of the game Brand New You which brings people in conversation about their personal endeavor. We made a game in stead of a book, because it helps people to interact. A book helps you to read and think:)

My personal page on de Baak site

De Baak is the executive development agency I work for in The Netherlands.

You can also look on for the English version without prezi. The prezi is getting a bit old anyway.


Transforming Innovation into Business - Expedition Boston

Today’s global business environment is volatile and uncertain. That’s why professionals need to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial. This demands confidence in your field, openness with business partners, and the ability to learn from and share with colleagues. It’s about creating new networks, becoming aware of what you know (and don’t know) and being willing to go a step further.

De Baak’s international business program provides a platform where you can establish new ‘next practices’ that help you face your personal business challenges. You can experience what other leaders are doing in the world, build on their knowledge, and learn to become an effective leader. We’ll help you increase your knowledge and skills, and create opportunities for international experiences. You’ll have the chance to establish a new network of innovators, and explore and respond to your challenges within a safe environment. The program features a two-day module on Innovation at MIT Sloan in Boston, allowing you to expand your portfolio of knowledge, skills, network, and expertise and to create ‘next practices’ which are future-oriented, creative and innovative.


Next Practices and staying flexible

Last week I was talking to a customer from a large airline company and we discussed business improvisation as a way to develop new best practices for organizations. We had an interesting conversation if creating next practices would be more interesting?



Best Practices

The idea behind Best Practices is to copy success stories. If it has worked in the past, it will work again. Don’t invent the wheel for the second time (Dutch saying). And indeed, in many situations this “copying” will work. At this moment I write this text underneath a fake design lamp. And it works great! Thank you China!



Nevertheless, the risk is of course that your situation is not exactly the same as in the original setting and you have to hit the best practice very hard to fit. Another problem is that things change, so you better be prepared to what is coming. Bring your ambition to a higher level because when you will implement your idea it will not be that high anymore. The world is in a rat race.


I use some best practices / definitions to describe next practices:


Best practices only allow you to do what you are currently doing a little better, while next practices increase your organization’s capability to do things that it could never have done before. By jumping a level up to next practices, you’re taking a giant step in that you are actually creating your future recruiting capabilities, rather than relying on the innovation of others.” (Dr. John Sullivan)


Next practices represent futuristic best practices.” (C. Mahalingam) 


The old concept of Next Practices

I really like the words Next Practices. It sounds fresh and creative. Best practices let you looking back, next practices are looking forward. Next practices are more closely tied to entrepreneurship, creativity, and sustainability. While reading some examples really enjoyed the more innovative way of thinking.


On the other hand it isn’t really new. It’s a bit like blue ocean strategy, out of the box thinking, etc. etc. Nothing wrong with that., but the model of next practices doesn´t seem to be a next practice in itself… Ah well, it’s still an inspiring new couple of words.  


Phase vs continuous process

My real hesitation is that it still doesn’t sound very flexible. Next practices still sound like making plans and executing them. As the brainstorm phase in a project plan. Most organizations use project plans in which the project leader describes the goals (the best / next practice) and the way he is going to achieve these goals. In reality most project leaders know while writing the plan that things will go different because the world will be different during the actual operation of the plan. And the principal also know this, but it gives him / her feeling of certainty.


What would happen if everybody in organisations would follow their project plan as it was written? I think most plans would probably fail.


Next practices as a compass

Nevertheless, I believe that most people need goals which will give them direction and makes it more easy to work together. It would be interesting to set goals by thinking in the way of next practices, and use competences as for example described in business improvisation to keep flexible along the way.


Stretch your mind by using next practices.

Use these goals as a compass.

And stay creative all the way.