Top tier business schools such as Stanford, MIT, Duke and UCLA are teaching improv as a method to increase collaboration, creativity and risk taking.
In a recent interview on NPR, Daena Giradella, MIT Sloan Lecturer, Leadership Center, talks about success, failure, taking risks and “Yes and…”
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.
Improvisation is a practice, like yoga or tai chi, and involves skill development. Some of the most important skills, she says, are being in the moment, saying yes to the unexpected, making the other person look good, and high stakes listening.
Everything is practiced within the context of taking risks and possibly failing. When you actually do what you’re afraid of, and you survive, it has a way of inoculating you against the fear.
In high stakes listening, we listen intently, knowing the life of the scene and our performance in the scene depends on our ability to listen accurately, and in caring about what you say.
Improvisation is training in what matters. Its not about avoiding mistakes, it’s about how you handle the mistake, rebounding, and the next moment. Do we recoil? Do we take the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with the person we’re with? Apologize? With improvisation, we get to choose, because we have power in the moment.
Typically students of improv training are taught to embrace and celebrate everything that’s shared. It’s based on the foundational principle of “Yes and.” Often in business ideas are blocked with “Yes but.”