Guest contributions:

04.22.13  Uncommon Leadership 

04.02.15  Switch and Shift  

05.13.15  Better Practice Team Performance

05.29.15  Better Practice Team Performance

07.08.15  Switch and Shift 

07.14.15  Better Practice Team Performance

10.05.15  Switch and Shift 

Stacey's Reading List...


"Tribe of Mentors" by Timothy Ferriss

"Shortcut" by John Pollack 

"Seeing What Others Don't" by Gary Klein

"Several Short Sentences About Writing" by Verlyn Klinkenborg

"The Birkman Method - Your Personality at Work" by Sharon Birkman Fink and Stephanie Capparell

"Creative Intelligence" by Bruce Nussbaum 

"Improv Wisdom" by Patricia Ryan Madson

"Training To Imagine" by Kat Koppett

"Quiet" by Susan Cain

"Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson

"A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman 

"Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson  

"The Leadership Pipeline" by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel  

"Life:  Selected Quotations" by Paulo Coelho 

"Deep Change" by Robert Quinn

"The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz  

"The Way of the Shepherd" by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak  

"Developing the Leader Within You" by John Maxwell  

"Mr. Peabody's Apples" by Madonna

"Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie




blog archive

Finding business solutions in improvisational comedy...

There continues to be a great deal of conversation in the business world regarding “creativity and innovation”. And what has been discovered throughout all this conversation is that it’s not about how creative you are, it’s about how you are creative.  Ingenuity drives the business model.

  • Fast Company magazine:  each year an entire issue is devoted to 'the 100 most creative people in business'
  •  a 2006 tedtalk by Sir Ken Robinson continues to hold the record for most-viewed talks, 11.2 million and counting, on what kills creativity
  • Social media:  in just my small corner of the world, I don't go a single day without a twitter feed referencing innovation

A recent newcomer to the conversation is “improvisational comedy”.  Improvisational comedy allows for translation of unpredictable input into scenes, persona, perspective, and emotion, thus creating a virtual playground for the mind, body, and soul.  It’s a different way of seeing, being in, and translating the world - including the world of work.  Many companies are seeing the benefits of merging this art form with business thinking to drive business solutions. 

Rather than teach creativity and innovation as structured content, I rely on the creative and innovative platform of improvisation to provide that unique vantage point of true boundary-less thinking.     

I have yet to find a topic of conversation I couldn’t unpack using the core improvisation techniques of: 

Yes, and  Yes, and… means that you accept whatever is offered to you.  Character, location, story line – it doesn’t matter.  Your response is Yes, and… then you simply add to what you are given. 

Pay attention, listen, stay in the moment!  You can’t plan anything.  You can’t control anything.  You just have to see where the scene leads you.  And the best way to do that is by listening to what you are given.  Focus on what you are offered, not on what you want to say. 

Trust.  You have to believe in yourself, in your partner, and in the scene.  Trust that something magical will come to you when you need it.  Trust that your scene partner will set you up for success. 

Applying these core techniques in the business world brings many benefits.  Improvisation helps you:

  • Find your unique voice.  It’s the perfect place to practice being who you’re not, so you can figure out who you are.  You have permission to try on a plethora of personas in a safe setting.  I guarantee you will gravitate toward who you are, or who you’re meant to be.  Maybe your gift is sarcasm, or you radiate pure happiness  – find out where you add value and do more of that.   
  • Create executive presence.  Being confident and comfortable on the business stage takes deliberate practice.  Executive presence is as much about finding your voice as it is about how you use it.   It’s about how you engage with others, how you invoke emotion, how you show authenticity.
  • Share compelling stories.  Storytelling is a nuanced art.  It’s the packaged content of voice and executive presence.  And it is quite possibly the center of the human experience.  That is why organizations all over the world look to storytelling as the most promising tool for sustaining organizational culture. 
  • Increase divergent problem solving skills.  As the scene develops, and you have no idea what you will do next, you become much better at divergent problem solving (when there are multiple right answers).  Often times in business we get stuck looking for the one answer, when in fact there are several best answers. 
  • Drive creativity and innovation.   Innovation does best in environments where ideas simply flow.  There are moments of absolute brilliance that you stumble upon while you’re busy “making theater out of thin air”.  Embrace serendipity.  
  • Understand exposure to risk.  You basically have a free pass to mess up and nobody will care; it just doesn’t matter.  The pressure is removed if we don’t feel we can fail.  Error is endlessly diversified. 
  • Maintain a sense of humor.  The world is fast paced, business is complex, and life is serious.  It can be overwhelming. Maintaining a sense of humor tends to put all things in perspective. 

Improve Thru Improv workshops can be designed to “unpack” competencies, behaviors, team dynamics, or personal idiosyncrasies.  It’s all in the framing.  Workshops can be structured for half day, full day, or even multi-day delivery, and can accommodate a wide range of participant base.  


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