Improspectives

Improv skills lead to success

A Playful Attitude Makes Life Easier

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News flash: life ain’t easy. I used to hear that being an adult wasn’t easy, but with the piles of homework and outside activities heaped on kids these days it’s fair to apply the statement to everyone. George Carlin opined that every kid’s daily schedule should include a couple of hours staring out the window — I think that’s a terrific idea.

Having time to yourself gives you the freedom to think about whatever comes to mind and combine ideas in new ways. In other words, to play. This attitude can become a habit, letting you see the unconventional and humorous sides of issues even though you take them seriously.

I discovered a terrific example of this approach in the description of the Wharton School of Economics’s course An Introduction to Operations Management on Coursera.org. The FAQ list contains this bit of whimsy:

What is the coolest thing I’ll learn if I take this class?

You will look at the world with different eyes – you will start to detect bottlenecks, identify productivity wastes, and come up with ideas to improve business processes. A known side effect of these skills is that you might drive friends, family, or co-workers crazy when you point to their improvement opportunities…

The descriptions for the other three Wharton classes contain similar humorous elements. This approach should appeal to casual learners the Wharton School wants to engage with (it certainly caught my attention) and makes the prospect of taking a MOOC offered by a prestigious MBA program a little less imposing. I like their thinking and can’t wait to get started.

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