background of the programs

Creativity is a practice, not a talent.



Escape the conventional

My content is informed by my combined experience as a communications trainer, a design thinking/innovation and creativity facilitator, an intercultural trainer, and my background as a rebellious classical musician. I escaped many conventional paths in my life, and my own programs rest on the essential belief in cultivating courage to think independently, create meaning, be sensitive to others, and the possibility to change the world for the better. I believe in defying stereotypes, thinking logically and creatively, including everyone, getting unstuck again and again.

Pay Attention, Practice Improvisation, Reiterate

Inspirations include: Design Thinking, Prototyping, Lean Startups, Disruption, human observation, John Cage and chance operations, Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening, Defamiliarization in Russian Formalism, Buddhist meditation and ‘dharma art’, mindfulness, William Forsythe's Improvisation Technologies, Laban movement systems, Elizabeth Streb's Action Theory, music improvisation systems, non-competitive games, The Mindset, deliberate cognitive dissonance, Antonin Artaud, playwright Anna Deavere Smith, martial arts, Japanese calligraphy, Flexus, improvisation theater, surrealism, and numerous writing exercises.

Fabienne Verdier

Fabienne Verdier

Contact Improvisation

Contact Improvisation

Listen Deeply, Make Contact

I love it when people surprise me, and they often do. Experience has taught me that people have many sides to themselves, and that it feels good to learn and grow. This is always possible.

A sampling of thought influences include Carol Dweck, Brené BrownEve Ensler,Whitney Johnson, Adam Grant, Pema ChodronDaniel GolemanRick HansonEllen LangerAngeles ArrienBenjamin Zander, Rami ShapiroNorman Fischer and Alan Lew. Coaching influences include Thomas GordonAdele Faber and Eliane MazlishHarriet Lerner, and Tara Mohr (I've completed her Playing Big Facilitator's Training).

L Carmichael_tools for leadership development.jpg

leadership tools

here’s a summary of tools and methodologies I apply, facilitate or curate in designing leadership development programs

Make it Applicable

I understand the importance of making so-called "soft skills" practical and applicable to business. I have an understanding of the business environment and pressures, and to make trainings experiential and relevant, yet I am still comfortable being provocative and challenging the status quo when useful. I also never underestimate the power of pleasure in learning and motivation.



Grounded in Research

The core content is grounded in research. During a two-year residency (2008-10) at the University of Southampton, UK, I researched the nature of collaboration and creativity, and devised systems for generating non-habituated raw material in music. These systems are adapted for the “lay person” to access the same creative flow state that any creator accesses.

Parts of the content have been presented as "Connections: Creativity” at the Salzburg Mozarteum in the series Body and Mind at ConTempOhr, and at Klagenfurt University (Austria), University of New Mexico, Istanbul Bilgi University and University of California at Davis. Corporate programs have been run in various size companies, for participants at all levels. For a list of references, please contact me.


Play is not just for children, athletes, designers or inventors.

The value of play for adults has been researched and documented. A few quotes in the press and from experts on the value of creativity and the connection to play for adults:

Play is “vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships,” according to Dr. Stuart Brown, an expert in the power of play. [ TED talk, Play is more than just fun]

“A little play can help solve big problems. Play is nature's great tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties. When we play, dilemmas and challenges naturally filter through the unconscious mind and work themselves out.” – Nancy Shute, US News and World Report

Creativity, stimulated by play, leads to higher productivity. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, a global design company, said in a TED talk that creating an office in which people have the security and comfort to play and not be judged allows them to take more creative risks. "Play helps us come to more creative solutions, helps us do our jobs better, and helps us feel better when we do them." [TED talk, Tales of creativity and play]


How to trick your biology

We are wired to repeat what is familiar and known to work, to conform to be part of a group and stay safe. Most of the time we are in the practical mode of daily life. So we have to “trick” ourselves to come up with new ideas, or even see new contexts for known information. Luckily we are also wired to do this, to play and invent, once we can sidestep the urge to play it safe due to fear of shame, embarrassment or exclusion. This kind of creativity can be stimulated with a number of methods. For example putting two seemingly unrelated elements together, examining an object without its usual function, repeating the same action (like a physical gesture or musical sound) at different speeds, or moving our body within a set of rules that limits usual patterns (like not allowing bi-pedal movement). Creativity sometimes also needs the support of inner work on blocks and our "inner critic" that limits our ability to explore and play. 

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