Improv for business


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Improv for business

  1. 1. Using the tools of Improvisation to run your business. Presented by Kristy Oliver, Founder, Facilitator Atlanta Improv Events
  2. 2. Misconceptions About Improv • Improvisation is comedy – Improv IS what happens when you live in the moment. • People who do improv must be funny – People who do improv , connect, listen, agree and add. • Improv is not for everyone – Improv IS for anyone, we do it everyday, all of us. It can be difficult for those in business to wrap their mind around improv. The business mind wants to have all the answers and think about the future. Improvisers don’t dwell on the future. They focus on the right now. If you focus on what’s in front of you right now, the future will take care of itself. This concept is very difficult for the business mind to grasp.
  3. 3. About me. I began studying and performing improv in Atlanta in 2000. Having worked in corporate sales for over a decade, I began to see the benefits of my improv training in the workplace. As a sales professional it helped me make more meaningful connections, to be a better listener, build trust, think on my feet, be creative and handle uncertainty. I launched Atlanta Improv Events in 2010, infusing my passion for improv with my experience in corporate sales offering training and education to companies. In traditional corporate environments, companies are not paying enough attention to their most important asset, their people. My theory is that improv in the workplace embodies everything people need to be happy, productive and successful. What company doesn’t want this?
  4. 4. History of improv? • Modern Improvisation is an art form that started in Chicago in 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Viola Spolin started what became known as the famous Second City in Chicago, and is known as one of the original training schools for improv. Among the talent coming out of Second City Improv training.....
  5. 5. What is improv? Enough said....
  6. 6. Improv as a tool for life and business If you study improv, it becomes clear that the same principles that you use on stage can be applied to your everyday life. Stephen Colbert said in a college commencement speech, “Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say "yes." And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say "yes“ back. And Tina Fey talks about the rules for improv in the workplace in her book, Bossypants. TINA FEY’S RULES FOR IMPROV…AND THE WORKPLACE Rule #1 — Agree Rule #2 — Not Only Say Yes… Say Yes And Rule #3 — Make Statements Rule #4 — There Are No Mistakes… Only Opportunities Read more at career/#tjzxEsX8yRKZv3vC.99
  7. 7. Improvising in the work place From Tina Fey’s Bossypants, “There are no mistakes, only opportunities, which doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong, but that it’s your job to make the best of the situation you find yourself in. …. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.” • In corporate environments, people are most often afraid to fail. Making a mistake is usually not encouraged. However, in Improv we are taught to take a risk, fail, and find something amazing in the process. Some of the world’s most amazing discoveries were mistakes.... – Penecillin-one of the most famous and fortunate accidents of the 20th century – Post-it Notes – The Slinky – Coke-Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton was trying to make a cure for headaches. He mixed together a bunch of ingredients , and Coca-Cola was born. Patricia Ryan Madson, author of “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up” “We’re all creators given the conditions and permission to do so, “All too often, there are corporate cultures that say: ‘Be creative, but don’t make any mistakes.’ Improv opens doors to doing things a different way.”
  8. 8. The Corporate Culture of No! In a recent article that was published in Psychology Today, it was found that the word “no” can have a distinct impact on our ability to reason, communicate, and think logically. How does the Yes, And rule apply in the workplace? Corporate cultures can be very competitive. A competitive workplace can create a culture where everyone is looking out for themselves. When people are shooting down other’s ideas and managers are not listening to their employees because they are afraid of change, ideas that could develop into something amazing are left to die and employees are often miserable. If companies use the improv rule of “Yes, And”... they open the door to ideas that would normally get ignored and missed altogether. Keith Johnstone, one of the big idea men in the world of improv, is often quoted in regards to this. “There are people who say ‘yes’, and there are people who say ‘no’. The people who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and the people who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the security they attain.” Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre-Keith Johnstone
  9. 9. Basic Improv Tools • Connect • Listen • Be “In the Moment” • Agree and Add (Yes, And...) • Move forward, always be progressing • Accept all ideas, don’t judge. • Fail, and feature it • Don’t think, just do • Be Courageous and Authentic
  10. 10. When companies lack Trust, Confidence and Innovation... • “When we are authentic, we aren't afraid to share with others what we are feeling and thinking. This invites them into the conversation and encourages them to help us solve the problem. However, when we refuse to be authentic (after all, authenticity requires vulnerability), we attempt to present ourselves as perfectly perfect. By doing so, we not only shut down a bigger conversation but we come across as a rigid politician. No one trusts a rigid politician.“ Source: Brandon Smith via dysfunctiona_b_3611542.html?view=print&comm_ref=false
  11. 11. Great Companies Get It! What do Spanx Founder, Sara Blakely and Twitter CEO Dick Costello have in common? Both did stand up comedy and studied improv. • Twitter CEO, Dick Costello has been very vocal about running his company and culture like an improv group today. – of-twitter-an-improv-master-writing-its- script.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0&pagewanted=print – &list=PLs6ET6shI-d3R6tmxVnYTsdm3A-CnfxEt – ter-ceos-biz-lessons-from-the-improv.html?s=print
  12. 12. When you apply basic improv techniques to business... • Empowerment • Creativity • Resourcefulness • Confidence • Trust • Heightening communication skills – listening – focus – making is about the other person – increased idea sharing
  13. 13. Press on Improv in Business 7/17/2013 “Tackling the Dysfunctional Workplace” Randy Hain, Huffington Post • “So often businesses focus on the bottom line or sales growth, but don't do the things necessary to keep the employees--who are the backbone of the organization--happy, fulfilled and engaged.” March 2, 2008, from The New York Times, Janet Rae-Dupree, “Can Executives Learn to Ignore the Script?” – “Tension melts away. Competition takes a back seat. And new ideas miraculously start to flow.” – “Not to say every business brainstorming should turn into a stand-up comedy skit. But the openness and playfulness that characterize improvisational acting can create a sense of cooperation and affirmation that is foreign is highly competitive workplaces.” Practicing this in the workplace will allow ideas to flourish, and brilliant ones at that. – “Creating a culture of, Yes”. “The improv idea of saying yes from the start, allows business folks to entertain things that would ordinarily get axed out.” – Too often the business mind wants to play it safe, find the tried and true ways of solving problems, but that can negate a fresh approach to viewing the situation. – Corporate environments have a knack for keeping people from their more creative selves. Improv teaches us to respond quickly, move forward, use what’s in front of you allowing the creativity to flow.
  14. 14. Workplace Dysfunction • Brandon Smith is a leading expert in workplace health and dysfunction. He is the founder of • Top 3 WP Dysfunctions: – 1. Lack of courageous leadership - whether we are talking about making tough decisions about the future or simply finding the courage to say 'I don't know,' there has been an obvious lack of real courage in leadership today. This lack of authentic courage is resulting in elevated levels of anxiety, uncertainty, fear and indecisiveness across nearly all workplaces. 2. Lack of appreciation - from the entry-level employee to the senior manager, very few of us are getting kudos, pats on the back or even the simple 'way to go.' Personally and professionally, I have never seen appreciation at such an all-time low. This has become so pervasive that I have yet to find an organization that is not suffering from this easy-to-fix dysfunction. 3. Too much - Combine too much work, too many demands and too many unrealistic expectations with too little boundaries and you've got a problem. Thanks to our mobile technology people are working nearly nonstop regardless of the time and place, threatening their mental, emotional and relational health like never before."
  15. 15. Does it pay to play? • When you look at outperforming companies like Google, Zappos, Virgin, South West Airlines and Mindvalley (Malaysia), there’s one thing they have in common. They invite and promote playful behaviour of their staff. Why? Because they know that playfulness is the fastest way to create openness, connectedness, collaboration and creativity; attributes that are needed now more than ever to create innovative products and memorable customer experiences. And their numbers show that it pays off in profits. Source: Annemarie Steen Serious about Playfulness