Applied improvisation endorsed in the media . . .

Funny Business: Applied improv helps corporate teams communicate, collaborate

MiBiz, Jill Hinton, March 01, 2015

 

Improvisation, once the exclusive domain of stand-up comedians and performance troupes like Second City, has found a new home in the board rooms and the sales training programs of corporate America.  

 

The technique that helps people collaborate, communicate and quickly solve problems has caught on among companies looking to improve their workplace culture in ways that support employee engagement. 

Improvisation -- a Different Way of Solving Business Problems Yields Big Rewards

​Forbes, Susan T. Spencer

Are you a problem solver who can improvise when faced with an unexpected challenge? If not, I suggest you learn how toimprovise. When you are able to come up with original and sometimes unconventional ideas to solve problems you have separated yourself from the pack and will get noticed.  In business you are judged by your successes—to be successful you must be a good problem solver. Being able to improvise, by coming up with unique solutions to difficult situations involves some risk in putting yourself out there—but the rewards are well worth the risk. 

It's no laughing matter: Applying rules of improvisational comedy can improve your business results.
Biznik, Kathleen Watson, September 2011

If you’re serious about your business, you can learn a lot from improvisational comedy.  

 

The most memorable lesson I learned was this: Beginning improv is an excellent way to develop humility. However, I also learned that, far from being a free-for-all, good improv actually follows clear rules. Applying these rules in an improv class enables you to progress from deer-in-the-headlights mode to feeling fairly confident that you can actually avoid public humiliation. As I progressed through my classes, I realized these rules of improv could profitably be re-named Rules of Smart Business.

The #1 Job Skill School Won't Teach You
Men's Health, Drew Grossman, January 2013

Rather than taking business cues from Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban, look to Will Ferrell and Stephen Colbert instead. Both funnymen have extensive training in improvisation, which is fast becoming a stealth strategy in today's business world.

 

Picture this: You're sitting in a job interview with a fresh haircut, polished shoes, and a painstakingly edited resume to present you at your best. You've studied the ins and outs of the company and even rehearsed a few personal anecdotes that reflect your ability to work well with others, overcome difficulty, and think creatively. You're killing the interview . . . until the boss hits you with this bomb: "What movie tells the story of your life, and why?" Wharton Business School didn't prepare you for this.

Yes, and . . . Improv techniques to make you a better boss
Fast Company, Lindsay LaVine, January 2014

Many of our favorite comedians launched their careers in Improv, but it’s also a tool for leaders to communicate more effectively with their employees. And, no, it’s not about comedy or trust falls.  Charna Halpern, co-founder of iO (formerly ImprovOlympic), a Chicago and Los Angeles-based theater and training center that launched the careers of comedians likeTina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mike Myers, says business leaders can benefit from incorporating improvisation techniques into their leadership style.

 

Improv is based on soft skills such as listening and communicating. Listening is crucial because you need to be present and in the moment, Halpern says. “Most people are waiting to speak and not listening in the moment. Instead, they’re thinking of what they’re going to say,” she says. In improv, you must listen to what's been said and pay attention so you can react appropriately. If you're not focused on what's happening around you, you miss an opportunity to build the scene, and the show comes to a screeching halt.

Have a Laugh and Build Your Career: Improv for Professional Development
Forbes, Caroline Ceniza-Levine, October 2014

People typically think of improvisational theater, or improv, as a lighthearted way to pass the time – e.g., watching “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” However, this performance genre, which involves making up scenes or even whole shows spontaneously with no pre-set script, has found its way into big business. While facilitating an executive leadership program for media professionals, I used improvisational theater games to break the ice and impart lessons on teamwork and listening. NYC-based Magnet Theatre has a dedicated improv-for-businessgroup and has worked with Pepsico, Google, and McKinsey. Bill Connolly, author of Funny Business: Build Your Soft Skills Through Comedy, is working his way through the US offices of iCrossing, a digital advertising agency, teaching “Improv Your Creativity” workshops. Connolly shared some key business lessons gleaned from improv, and these are helpful for individual careers as well.

Why using improvisation to teach business skills is no joke

CNN, Mark Tutton, February 2010

 

In a business world that's more uncertain than ever it pays to be able to think on your feet. That's why some business schools are using improvisation classes to teach skills such as creativity and leadership.  

 

While many people might think of improvisation as unscripted comedy, it can apply to any form of spontaneous theater -- and practitioners say that using "improv" to teach business skills is no joke.

Can applied improvisation benefit your business?  Contact us today for more information.

Tell us about your company or team

Brian at WMU Haworth College of Business

Whether you're looking to ease into a culture change, want solutions for conflict resolution or are looking for more communication tools when it's time to go "off script," applied improv will provide great take-aways for your team. It makes for a great team building event too!

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It's improvisation, but there's a method to the madness. We have a proven process that begins with simple communication concepts, which then build on themselves until we arrive at specific, real-world techniques for effective, positive communication. 

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Let us know how we can introduce the benefits of improv to your group. In addition to performing and coaching improv for years, we have backgrounds in sales management, event planning, focus group facilitation, business development and small business ownership.

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