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Takeaways from “How Improv Methods from Comedy Can Lift Business Performance” (Knowledge@Wharton)

Written by Eric Vigo

June 4, 2020

This is a great interview with the father of ‘Improv for Business’, Bob Kuhlan by the Wharton School of Business. Here are some takeaways which I believe frames how improv can change how you see your interacton within your organisation.

“Using the tenets of improvisation on a regular basis help achieve mindfulness and increase emotional intelligence….”

TAKEAWAY 1: His main thrust is that improv is used a primary tool for achieving better performance.

TAKEAWAY 2: Improv is a skill that is transferrable to other people within your company, who can use improv in their own performance. This involves aligning the framing of the language you use with your behavior. In a consistent and overt way, you can definitely influence people to behave in a certain way.

TAKEAWAY 3: When improv is used throughout the organisation, this changes your culture. And over time, it becomes more adaptable, nimble and flexible, ready to take on change, and embrace creativity and innovation.

TAKEAWAY 4: Improv should be a top-down approach. For change to happen, everyone watches the leadership to see what they are doing.

TAKEAWAY 5: Judgement and critical thinking are put to one side, to take in and absorb the offers and opportunities that are being presented to us.

Many of the references are based around his book “Getting to Yes And“, which I highly recommend you get hold of and read.

Knowledge@Wharton: The concept behind the book is about a building process where you’re able to do certain things. But you want to also improve what you can do and your skills, and be able to move up the chain.

Kuhlan: Absolutely […] Our journey in getting to “yes and,” starts with personal development — what can you use for yourself? Then in interpersonal development — how can you help the one or two people around you? Then in team development — how can you help that larger group of people?

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