Kurt Lewin (1890–1947), a leading psychologist of his generation known for field theory and the theory of group dynamics, provided the foundations of organizational development, which began to gain traction in the 1950s. According to the Cambridge Business Dictionary, “organizational development” (OD) today is defined as “the process of making a large company or organization more effective, for example, by giving employees the skills they need to develop and to deal with new situations or markets.” In 1971, OD was defined as “an educational strategy employing experienced-based behavior in order to achieve a self-renewing organization,” and the goals were:
库尔特·刘温（1890-1947），他那一代的主要心理学家，以场论和群体动力学理论而闻名，他为组织发展提供了基础，并在20世纪50年代开始获得吸引力。根据《剑桥商业词典》，如今的“组织发展”(OD)被定义为“使一个大公司或组织更有效的过程，例如，通过给予员工发展和处理新情况或市场所需的技能。” 1971年，od 被定义为“一种以经验为基础的行为来实现自我更新的组织的教育策略” ，其目标是:
Creating an open, problem-solving climate; supplementing the authority of status with that of competence; building trust; reducing inappropriate competition and fostering collaboration; developing reward systems which recognize both organizational and individual goals; locating decision-making and problem-solving responsibilities close to the information sources; increasing the sense of “ownership” of the organization and its objectives; and increasing self-control and self-direction for organizational members. (Kegan 1971: 456)
In our research, we have yet to find evidence of improvisational theatre processes specifically applied to OD programs in the 1960s through the late 1980s to meet these goals. However, we’d like to point out how most of the goals outlined above are analogous to the goals of AI. Consequently, we are somewhat surprised that early workers in OD, a field that is rooted in behavioral science, did not see the connection to improvisation as had others mentioned earlier working in disciplines of psychology and sociology.
By the 1990s, we know that organizations were welcoming improvisation into their training. Several of our authors, in fact, began their AI work at this time.9 Still, as Dusya Vera and Mary Crossan (2005: 203) discovered, while conducting research on improvisation training for innovative performance in teams, “limited theoretical work is available on what it takes to develop this skill. Also, there is a lack of empirical evidence supporting the success of any improvisational training effort.”” In 2007, Keith Sawyer wrote that we are now in a “culture of collaborative organization ... based on flexibility, connection, [and] conversation” in which “improvised innovation is standard business practice” (156). So why was there and why is there still a dearth of theoretical and empirical research on improvisation integrated into OD strategies? Why is OD so late to the AI party? Over the past decade, a handful of distinguished authors have published significant monographs that point to the relevance of improvisation practice to spontaneous decision-making, to marketing and sales, to communication, to structuring of organizations, and to collaborative creation and innovation.10
But the amount of published research widely available does not proportionately represent the growth and diversity of AI practice happening around the globe. We hope that this book will inspire other AI facilitators to begin immediately documenting, writing about, and publishing their own stories and strategies.