Often our fear of failure and doing the wrong thing zaps our ability to be present and project confidence, which is what is required of leaders. By developing muscles to deal with fear, the ability to succeed is expanded.
The course work is experiential and is designed to make the impact of failure be less and less important in a person’s decision making process.
When Ask.com began transitioning from a general search and Q & A service into a mobile focused business in 2012, they incorporated improvised play (Applied Improv) into their weekly routines.
Every Friday afternoon the entire organization utilizes improvised play and exercises to infuse innovation and creativity into their everyday corporate culture, says Lisa Kavanaugh, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Ask.com in this interview.
After reading a book by Tina Fey, their CEO wanted the organization to utilize improv based tools and exercises at work. He made it clear he was not expecting activities like those in the famous improv show Who’s Line is it Anyway.
Instead, it was borrowing from the pillars of improv and applying them to their business setting to stimulate innovation through a new way of thinking.
Some key tenants of improv are that everything that’s shared is accepted, embraced and celebrated; that you do this in the moment, and that you collaborate with others to build on those ideas.
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and Tony Award-winning actor Tracy Letts (author of “Osage County”) shares his top ten ways to become the most creative self in this video. His ideas here are a bit …creative, so probably don’t listen at work (unless you work by yourself, at home, alone).
Ultimately his tactics are methods to get out of your own way (“allow what already exists to be”) and allowing creativity to exist.(Interesting: this is exactly what David Kelley, founder of IDEO, says is the key to unlocking creativity.)
Seth Godin’s thoughts on changing your mind speaks to the inevitability of needing to change and adapt to new information, and the need for skills in being responsive.
He says “It took me about five minutes to change my mind, after eighteen months of being wrong. I still remember how it felt to feel that flip switch in my head.” That flip, the ability, when confronted with a world that doesn’t match the world in your head, to say, “wait, maybe I was wrong.” We’re not good at that.“
Professor Wanda J. Orlikowski believes that improvisation skills in business create an agile, successful business. Her tips for success are all based on the benefits of implementing improvisation at work:
Plan to improvise – sometimes you can anticipate change, and if you can do that, you should plan to address that change in a flexible way
Adapt when you cannot foresee – as business rules are changing, adapt and test on a smaller, departmental scale before making company-wide changes
Create a learning environment – encourage communication between your employees in different locations and departments, push everyone to learn from each other
Encourage flexibility – to allow for improvisation, CEOs need to release some control and allow employees to experiment
Improvise today for success tomorrow – create a culture of experimentation and improvisation even when you’re not experiencing extreme change in practice for when you do need to change