Often the programs we offer at Strategically Playful provide the opportunity for people to have fun together.

When you’re having fun at work, the stress level goes way down, there’s an increase in morale and creativity, and customer satisfaction goes way up. ….because people like to do business with people who like to do business. A kind of bonding occurs through play that can take years to develop otherwise.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

We offer a number of activities that utilize some of the same activities that improvisers, actors, and writers use to develop their skills. Improvisors’ skills have gained significant attention in recent years. Duke, UCLA, MIT and Stanford all teach improv.

In a NPR report, professors claimed the techniques help students build collaboration, creativity and risk taking.

In a CNN article that focused on the impact Improvisation training has on people, it was shown the training teaches people to react and adapt quickly as well as improve creativity, innovation, communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

Lakshmi Balachandra, who teaches Improvisational Leadership at MIT Sloan School of Management and is a guest lecturer for advanced negotiation students at Harvard Business School,  said that the key improvisation principle is “Yes, and”, and is particularly relevant to business. It means acknowledging and accepting any idea that’s brought to the table, treating it with respect and then taking that idea further (it does not mean agreeing with it).

In this Fast Company article, the top benefits of improv at work mentioned by business leaders are:

  • Learning to listen
  • Building a culture that encourages risk taking / minimizes negativity associated with failure
  • Being able to react honestly

Listening and communicating are essential in Improv. Typically, our habit is to focus on what we’re going to say and how we’re going to say it instead of listening to who we’re with. In Improv, you must listen to what’s been said so you can react appropriately. If you lose focus on what’s happening, you miss an opportunity to connect and move the activity forward. Improv training prepares you to think on your feet, a skill all leaders, speakers and workers need.

Team Bonding at Lean Lab, Kansas City

Team Bonding at Lean Lab, Kansas City

Creating a safe place to fail encourages new and untested ideas, brainstorming, and trust. Improv helps to build a positive working environment, where employees know they can provide ideas without fear that they’ll be shot down.

Minimizing internal editing allows for honest reactions and more new ideas, faster. Improv training develops skills to react without editing. During training, it often becomes clear to the participants how much time they spend killing or polishing their own ideas.

Self critique and editing kills the creative spirit. Reducing this is one of the hardest things to do in creative development.

This “suspension of judgment” is essential for brainstorming and creative thinking. Unconditional acceptance often doesn’t come as easily to execs as does critical thinking. Although it’s also important in business, it sometimes it gets in the way.

Utilizing Improv based exercises and activities create fun AND a safe space for people to take chances, fail, engage in “Yes, and…” exercises, and suspend judgment.

In improv training, we practice “there are no mistakes, only opportunities,” which frames “failures” as things you work with vs. a big load of avoidance, fear and negativity.

Other benefits mentioned include: creating authenticity and a team-oriented atmosphere.

Colleges like Duke, Columbia and UCLA offer improv courses as part of their management programs. For example, Duke University offers a three-day open enrollment program for leaders called “Managing the Unexpected.”

We partner with local improvisers and experts to create customized team, development and entertainment programs for organizations and groups that want to bring a new level of connection, creativity and fun to their people.