Five Reasons to Give Improv a Shot in Your Organization

There are tons and tons of trust-building exercises and theories but none of them are as active (or as much fun) as improvisation. Here are five good reasons to give improv a shot as your organizational trust-building tool of choice:

Reason 1: We already improvise – every day.
If you think you can’t improvise, take a moment to consider any workday. We all head in with a schedule in our heads and outcomes for the day. I would bet that 90% of the time, that agenda changes on the fly. How do you manage? You improvise. The good part is that if you can master a few simple behaviors that improvisers use on stage, it can exponentially improve your ability to adapt, stay engaged and move on.

Reason 2: Positive behaviors = positive results is a known fact.
The underlying principle of improvisation is the concept of “Yes!” Improvisers believe that contributions should always be greeted with agreement – at least at first. Not all ideas are kept, but the act of positive reaction changes how people feel about their value, their part in a project and about you. A 2001 paper from the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations found that for every 1% improvement in the service climate (a company in a good mood), there’s a 2% increase in revenue.

Reason 3: Committing to the game creates accountability.
After an improviser says “Yes!” they immediately say “and.” That simple word, “and,” allows them to add an idea, a joke, and a flavor to the scene onstage. When they add their piece, it also means that they are committed to the scene. They are in it and will stick to it through failure or success. If we could all jump into our work with the attitude that will be positive and add our contribution, every time, everything would be done faster, better.

Reason 4: Improv removes the fear of making mistakes and managing the unexpected.
Improvisers make mistakes and encounter the unexpected all the time. More importantly, when faced with those occurrences, we acknowledge it (instead of shoving it under a rug), think about how it could be used for the good of the scene or comedy, and move on. Instead of running, fretting or obsessing about the unexpected, you can make mistakes into opportunities by working like an improviser.

Reason 5: Fun is a good thing.
The most successful executives and high-performance teams which whom I’ve worked always include fun in the list of why they’ve done so well. Being willing to laugh, work like it’s play, and act like a team is the best way to spend the many hours you are away from your home and family.

Convinced? Interested? Still scared? Tell us…


David Alger said...

These are some of my favorite skills/abilities honed from improv.

1) improves listening skills
2) practice at group communications
3) less self consciousness
4) ability to focus less on the words and more on the message
5) more decisive

David Alger
Pan Theater (

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a amazing venture and a very good encounter through studying the article

Karen Hough said...

To add to David's great list:
6)makes you more flexible during change and able to adapt to new situations!

Unknown said...

What could be more important than learning to THINK & REACT on one's feet. All the planning in the world can never completely prepare us for what will happen in the real world. It is wonderful to know that in all the "chaos" of real life and what happens in the moment there ARE a set of principles one can refer to...the IMPROV "rules" that Karen has so graciously shared in her new book.."The Improvisational Edge"

Rich Herb North Central Ohio Action Business Coaching