ABOUT IMPROV

Improv as a tool can have large-scale and deep effects on the resilience of your people, and the organisation itself.

The building blocks of improvisation are teamwork, listening and clear communication.

Improv for Business (IFB) technique training can create a similar culture at your organisation.

 WELCOME TO IMPROV: A GREAT PLACE

You may have heard that improv is used by performers to “be funny” and say whatever is at the top of their head.

That’s not all. Improv shows you how to be with how others are at. Improv gets you to practice in real-time natural listening. You play out accepting people. You build on what they contribute. With that embedded in you, together you create something greater.

In business, your sales team uses this to gain new buyers (good listening bring you more knowledge about your buyers). Lawyers create a level of trust, which makes a stronger case. IT and marketing help each other by filling in what the other is missing.

In a world where we have access to the same level of luxury objects, how we as people interact is what is left. And improv gives you that edge. And those who use it early have the edge in their industry.

 

GOT 14 MINUTES? Here’s the tl;dr version

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Improves listening skills

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Increases acceptance

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Improves communication

Increases trust between parties

Improves relationships between colleagues

Improves work atmosphere

COMFORTABLY EMBRACING THE UNKNOWN

CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Helps people trust they are safe during uncertain times (e.g. Covid)

 

Decreases stress

TL;DR

During Covid-19 and the changes we have to make in work to accommodate, those with resilience and accepting of the results of the changes, have a greater likelihood of surviving 2020 and into 2021. Improv is one of the tools that help you get there.

This means that we are made to embrace a new mindset to better navigate VUCA, even if we make mistakes.

Improv loves mistakes.

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Improv not only deals with the unknown, it needs it in order to work. It gives participants a safe space to accept that which normally scares us silly, and explore it with the goal of creating something new. It helps us get comfortable with the uncomfortable, lean into uncertainty and ambiguity – the fear and fight against it that makes us human.

Now and after Covid, success now involves not sticking to a 1970s management decision-making structure, as change needs to be taken advantage of, even as the most conservative firms have been forced to be comfortable with ambiguity and change.

Improv teaches us that mistakes are gifts. When things go wrong, we can improvise, drop our agenda and make things work in the moment – rolling with the punches as the saying goes.

Heather Urquhart

All improv games to some extent challenge our willingness to accept change and what’s thrown at us. They make us resilient so we can take that strength and manifest it in our everyday lives.

There is no such thing as staying the same. Those not improving are falling behind inspired talent that is. […] Storytelling and improv skills are the most important qualities of a winning air personality. Improv teaches personalities how to respond spontaneously and build on the existing reality.

Tracy Johnson, CEO, President of Tracy Johnson Media Group

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Improves sales performance

TL;DR

Giving your employees more of an emotional stake in the direction of business. Improv increases their quantity and quality of interactions, as engaged employees are very productive employees.

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Giving your employees more of an emotional stake in the direction of business. Improv increases their quantity and quality of interactions, as engaged employees are very productive employees.

ACTIVE LISTENING

Improves sales performance

TL;DR

Improv takes us out of our own minds, and purposefully gets us to focus on the others we are playing with. If we miss a beat because we are in our heads or trying to say something funny or witty, we miss the journey.

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COLLABORATION, TEAMWORK AND RELATIONSHIPS

Gather better team ideas on how to survive and thrive during Covid

TL;DR

Improv lives off collaboration. All exercises require it and only become more collaborative as participants learn to engage with openness and honesty. Combining skills and ideas allows your team to stretch beyond their comfort zone and positively manage more challenging situations.

Unlock your team’s collaborative intelligence. Attune yourself to the needs of others and the task at hand.

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Collaborate effectively with a range of team members and stakeholders

Build stronger teams whose members trust and support each other

Successful businesses that put a high value on sustaining relationships within the work environment will do what they can to make sure it stays at that level.

TRUST AND SUPPORT

Improved sales performance

TL;DR

Trust is vital for improv to succeed.

You cannot truly experience the joy and rewards of improv unless you create an environment where participants supporting all contributions is valued above the success or failure of those contributions.

As teams have more practice, the process is naturally honed and results in more successes, but only with implicit trust as a foundation.

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TRANSPARENCY AND HONESTY

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Encourages an atmosphere of openness

TL;DR

Improv relies on partners staying open during an exercise, but then also being clear and constructive when analysing how the outcome could have been improved.

You’re constantly relying on feedback from your team as the exercise progresses, but a well facilitated improv session also provides a safe space post-exercise to give and accept criticism with the goal of becoming stronger in the future.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to reach for emotions and states that you might not be honestly feeling, more that improv works best when perfectionism and extra-sensitivity are left at the door, and feedback is orientated towards “us vs the problem” over “my solution vs your solution”.

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INNOVATION AND RISK

Greater innovative thinking is critical to survive and thrive during Covid

TL;DR

Improv has innovation baked into it. So much so that it happens without you thinking about it, which is the idea. You don’t think about it. When reflections or feedback comes up, then you see how a problem was solved or an issue resolved.

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CONFIDENCE AND SELF-EFFICACY

Better sales performance with a potentially greater trust bond between salesperson and client

TL;DR

Improv gives people the opportunity to be confident in themselves to go places that are unknown and usually, not accepted by other members of society. This can often lead to an ability to put that confidence into practice (self-efficacy), and reflect on how that succeeds. In fact, this heightened level of inner confidence allows you to swim within and even thrive in uncertainty.

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HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Reduces intra-organisational conflict

Understand colleagues and clients better and how they tick

TL;DR

Improv allows us to dive and give us insight into the human experience safely.

Improv creates talking points within teams around their human side – and what is shown during sessions (failing, making mistakes, not knowing what to do next, needing to rely on others in your team while you walk across unchartered territory etc.). And becomes a type-of bond between them.

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Improv is about supporting the partner as much as possible. Improv works when we deal with emotions or relationships, rather than what we think about objects. Only with the human element, do we then connect with improv.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ)

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TL;DR

Improv places high value on EQ and runs successfully when emotions are explored and played with. EQ automatically gets a boost as we progress through different scenes and scenarios.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Similar to openness, this allows you to access new markets and expand your customer base

Increases your range of potential employees

TL;DR

Improv encourages people to celebrate diversity and full inclusion of everybody’s ideas.

Build an environment that respects a diversity of new ideas.

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COMMUNICATION, CREATIVITY AND STORYTELLING

Improves sales performance

TL;DR

To succeed well within your team and the organisation, the ability to tell a story around what you work with (from HR, to finances). This is what draws people in.

Improvisation gives you the tools to tell stories no matter what you work with. And this allows great communication, creatively.

Improv gives you the tools to generate and create ideas without limit. You can then take problems, give it a new frame, and you have opened up new paths to moving forwards towards solutions.

 

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Improv gives you the freedom to explore life while the ability to tell it in a way that people will remember.

Improv is great at helping you become clear and understandable with your words – for others have to accept them and work off them. Any fuzzyness doesn not advance the relationship.

But this isn’t saying that you need to be simple. That’s not the same as being clear. The problems can be complicated/complex, but that means you have more material to be clear about.

And creativity is what allows you to do this once you give yourself permission to use creativity. And in the days of Covid, where change happens weekly, those who are willing to take a risk and use creativity to find a new way to market, will find this very handy. And remember that others are not using creativity. Just drying up unused energy in trying to fight against 2020.

LEADERSHIP

Increases awareness of how well you lead among staff, customers and other stakeholders

Increases awareness in others of how you lead

Improves intrinsic motivation in your staff

TL;DR

Improvisation enhances your leadership qualities by focusing on:

  • observing and listening more intently
  • accepting what people say during ideation (divergent thinking) and then editing what works best (convergent thinking)
  • be focused on what blurs the lines, and what makes them more clear
  • building trust among co-workers, customers and other stakeholders

As you listen, others feel heard, and they gravitate to those they believe have their confidence.

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Recently, IBM surveyed global CEOs and found that they view creativity as the most important leadership competency for the future.

Bruce E Whitacre (24/05/2013), ‘Theater Education Programs Are in Demand for Workforce Creativity’, Huffington Post.

By using one of improvisations bedrock tenents ‘Yes, and’, you are in listening mode, which means you are present with all those around you, and less in your head.

And in our Covid world where previous rule books are being rewritten, unless we listen to co-workers, customers and other stakeholders and listen well by taking in key words, you can be missing out out on critical market and strategic intelligence to move ahead as well as others who use improv.

“A workplace culture of “Yes, and” tends to be one where innovators feel comfortable, says Daena Giardella, who teaches an improvisational leadership class at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.”

Adam Bluestein, ‘Want to Be More Creative? Think on Your FeetCompanies like Life Is Good use improv exercises to boost collaboration and creativity.’, Inc,

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