To outsiders, improvisation in the comedy world is still a seemingly exclusive art form only reserved for those with skills on a Robin Williams level. But to those who actually do improv, they obviously know a lot more about the insides of the process that most casual observers don’t even notice. Part of that is in knowing how it can be incorporated into other fields, namely the corporate world. With improv already crossing over lately into the world of business, we’re even starting to see improv comedians becoming consultants as perhaps one of the strangest career hyphenates in the world.
Then again, it shouldn’t be looked at as overly offbeat. The skills that the art of improvisation can provide to corporate environments are enormous. And when it’s taught, it isn’t necessarily being taught in buttoned down ways. It’s bringing real comedic invention that can be applied when things get overly serious.
Using Improv in Leadership Positions
There’s already evidence in the media that this improv comedian-corporate connection is growing. These comedians are teaching corporate leaders how to apply the incomplete catchphrase of “Yes and…” when dealing with situations. That phrase may be one of the most deceptively simple phrases ever created when describing a particular art form. Yet, it describes exactly how you set up a pattern of improvisation. It shows the process of gaining ideas based on prompts around you and world experience.
When analyzed, you see it works exactly the same when an improv comedian fields ideas from audience members to go off on a wild improvised tangent. Once you deal with a problem in the workplace, it can work virtually the same way as long as there’s clarity of thought based on past experience.
Then there’s the incorporation of improvisation into crisis management that can somehow blend the world of comedy in with the very serious.
Using Improv for Quick Fixes During a Crisis
The whole point of bringing improv into the workplace is to get the creative mind operating in every employee. It’s so easy for a fertile creative mind to shut down when there’s no outlet for it, or if superiors aren’t receptive to other ideas. In the middle of a crisis, a lot of last-second creativity may have to be done in order to keep from having a complete shutdown.
Using the techniques of improv, a staff can work with the events and get into a stream-of-consciousness train of thought on coming up with very workable business continuity plans. While you’ll want to have a business continuity plan already drawn up, it’s not going to include the unexpected when you least want employees to freeze in implementing ideas.
Eventually, improvisation may become a mainstream endeavor in the workplace, right on down to the smallest business. And with training sessions that might look like something out of rehearsal for a comedy stage show, the secret to making it work effectively is really letting go of inhibitions while bringing a group effort. In that regard, the old buttoned down mentality of the workplace might be coming to an end and being replaced with a fresher perspective of blending fun with critical thinking.