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Improv In the Workplace

Improv In the Workplace

Recently Monkey Business Institute got an opportunity to use improv in an exciting new way. We have been hired by Emelar Consulting Group to come to their headquarters and teach a 10-week class to their employees. While we teach classes for the general public and also offer single session training playshops for corporations and groups, this is the first time that we have taught an entire class session onsite to a group of coworkers.

One of the main goals of this new endeavor (and with everything else we do, for that matter), is to help people learn what the improv mindset is and then help them incorporate that into their professional and personal lives.

You may be wondering what the heck an “improv mindset” is. Well, lucky for you I’m here to explain.

The improv mindset is an intentional mental and emotional approach to use in interactions with other people.

This mindset, when practiced consistently, develops into an improv culture within a group or environment. The improv mindset has several important elements:

  1. Clear Goals
    • In order to sustain an improv culture, there needs to be clear goals in place which encourage people to grab opportunities in the moment that may help attain those goals.
  2. High Focus and Engagement
    • Participants have a heightened sense of consciousness and awareness. This requires full buy in and a high sense of motivated engagement.
  3. Innovation
    • New methods of doing things and radical ideas are encouraged in all levels of the organization. There is no pressure for an idea to be practical or useful initially. Rather there is an openness to exploring the idea. Evaluation of its practicality can come later, but even ideas that ultimately aren’t used are seen as positive contributions.
  4. Group Flow
    • Working in teams is not seen as contentious or draining. Instead, it’s energizing and unpredictable. It feels like jamming.
  5. Yes, And
    • Perhaps most central to the improv mindset is a culture of Yes, And. Ideas and contributions are not criticized. They are accepted and built upon. Everyone has a mental contract to not shut down ideas as soon as they’re conceived. There is no negative blaming of others. Group members are excited to dive into the things they enjoy doing and can be confident that other team members will be there with positive support and positive questions to help guide the idea towards the overall goal.

Just like improv performers do for their shows, the onsite classe is made up of warm-ups, exercises, games, and discussions to help us quickly and frequently achieve the improv mindset. Over time in the class we experience many different aspects of this mindset as well as how to get there. Once we understand it and have experienced it, we can incorporate it into the full behavioral culture of our group.

I am truly excited by this new endeavor. We’ve been running it for only a couple weeks and I can already see significant positive results. I’d really like to see this approach take off and would love to be running multiple onsite classes in multiple locations by the end of the year.

If you can see the value of this service for your organization, please get in touch with me!

Improvisationally yours,