Intersect | improv, engineering, behavior design

SHORT VERSION. I am going to speak at a Professional Development Conference (March 2016) for Safety Engineers. My in-the-works presentation title – Who’s Building Healthy and Safe Habits, Anyway? – hints at the use of improv. And as suggested by a friend –

… would put more emphasis on the use of improv techniques to effect healthy habits, rather than focusing on BBS itself, and that it would be interactive, insightful, and very much fun.

(BBS is Behavior-Based Safety, on wikipedia)

Intersection (or Mashup)


L-R: me, Debbie

Debbie is correct. I have created one way to bring improv and engineering together – Building Environmental Health & Safety Habits. That one way is my use of behavior design as the bridge connecting engineering and improv.

Knowing the health and safety related goals for safety engineers + various improv warm-ups, exercises, and games, behavior design is the landscape to link the fun of improv and improv mindset to the nitty-gritty of safety first.

LONG VERSION. Here is the long version, thought process of how that intersection (or mashup) has evolved in my mind –

  • (late 1994) starting my energy and environmental consulting practice to serve air quality permitting; power plant siting, construction and operations; regulatory compliance; project management; and environmental management decision-making;
  • (late 1990s) serving as a project manager and being involved in select tasks involving compliance documentation for risk management programs, process safety management, and regulatory deviations;


  • (early 2000s) spending some time at power plant construction sites where daily meetings and check-ins happen, not to mention the emphasis on safe procedures and activities (and learning about different types of accidents);

30a_NH3inj piping fr NH3 tank

  • (late 2007) re-entering a traditional cubicle workspace (aka cubeopolis) and putting my consultancy on-hold to eliminate conflict of interest (on LinkedIn)
dressdown shirlJPG

Two months into cubeopolis, after deciding to put my thirteen year consultancy on hold

  • (early 2011) becoming a student and performer of improv and becoming a student of servant leadership through the Greenleaf Center (about the Center)
  • (late 2011) trying out Health Month (about Health Month)
  • (early 2012) testing different approaches for friends to shift behaviors toward healthier habits and toward productive workspace interactions
  • (summer of 2012) attending three conferences – the 22nd Annual Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership Conference in Indianapolis; the annual Applied Improvisation Network World Conference (see AIN storify) in San Francisco; and BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Boot Camp in Healdsburg (about Boot Camp)
  • (late 2012) realizing that because I not only enjoy environmental work but I also enjoy the practice of being an improviser and servant leader, I also want to create something that allows me to learn, practice, and share about my areas of interest
  • (early 2013) attending my first Camp Improv Utopia West (about camp)

camp improv utopia

  • (summer 2013) speaking at the 23rd Annual Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership Conference, co-presenting Who’s a Servant Leader Anyway? (on SlideShare, presentation)



Shoes: Fluevog, Choice family

  • (late 2013) becoming a Certified Coach for Tiny Habits® method (about coach program)
  • (early 2014) quitting my job


  • (early 2014) leading an improv-dance activity for ~ 60 participants at the 2nd Annual Design for Dance conference hosted by Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab in Palo Alto (my blog post about event)

(Dress: Stella Carakasi / Two Star Dog; Shoes: Fluevog, Hopes | Promise)

  • (early 2015) speaking at the 18th Annual EUEC (Energy, Utility & Environmental Conference) (presentation) in the early morning session on the last day of the conference, where I included a very brief improv-inspired warm-up


  • (early 2015) figuring out different ways to interconnect what I enjoy learning and doing by bringing an improv mindset to the workspace

Make sense? I am basically applying the principles of behavior design (including creating tiny habits) toward applied improvisation (e.g., the practice and philosophies of improv in a non-performance context) for the environmental health and safety industry sector. This is a similar to what I have done/am doing for servant leadership.

And a bonus of this – select activities are part of my business endeavors.

What are you interconnecting and mashing up that have not traditionally co-existed?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s