Applying improvisation

Yesterday I attended an all day workshop with the New York Chapter of the Applied Improvisation Network (AIN).  Not surprisingly I found myself surrounded with a generous, intellectually stimulating and playful group of professionals who apply improvisation in a number of settings – corporations, education and mental health.

Sue Waldron, of ImprovWorks! in the Bay Area gave a wonderful presentation on the breadth of the field – here are just some of the areas in which improvisation is being applied in the workplace:

Leadership, change management, sales, customer service, team building, community development, creativity and innovation, living the brand/brand management, corporate culture/transformational change, coaching, diversity, agility/resiliency, networking, facilitation skills, train the trainer (T3), burn out prevention, stress prevention, doctor/patient relations, substance abuse prevention.

One company that was mentioned that uses improvisation for collaboration in their corporate culture is Pixar – and what wonderful results they’ve had!  I did a quick Google search and found Pixar’s essential principles:

Accept any offer: when given a new idea try and work with it. Dismissing it causes the idea to be lost.

Make your partner look good: don’t extend work on the basis of making it better, think of it of adding value.

These are wonderful principles for any organization to embrace; they are basic building blocks of good improvisation and good theatrical collaboration.