Improvisation and Creativity in Business

Improvisational teams such as the Second City in Chicago launched the careers of John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroid, Bill Murray and many other comedy greats of the past 20 years.  It was a place to play and experiment.  Some of these experiments made a very small impact – in the audience you could hear the sound of one hand clapping. Others blew the roof off!  The team had to trust each other and themselves.

In business, teams and entrepreneurs have to creatively think on their feet and improvise to bring success.

There are rules for improvisation. It is not all made up on the spot and guidelines are required for the out of the box thinking.

The First Rule of Improvisation: Believe in yourself. You have to trust that you have ideas and an innate creative ability. Many people say, “I’m not creative.” But that is simply not true. Necessity is the mother of invention and if you were placed in a situation, such as having the door fall off your refrigerator, and no repair shop open until Monday, you would quickly discover your ability to come up with a solution. You would most likely come up with several ways out of this.

Think of some solutions now to this exercise, then, read on.

In my classes on improve, several ideas came forward such as; leaning the door back up and putting a chair against it, laying the refrigerator on its back and letting the door lay on it. Another wise participant said, “Call everyone over and throw a party and eat it all up.” And of course there is duct tape!

The situation caused a need for a solution and when pressed we all can think of several ideas.  We are creative, when we have to be.

So much of our creativity has been flushed away by school and peer pressure.  But it is still there waiting to flower like a seed under the snow in March.

Second: Trust your team. Try to avoid judging ideas too quickly, instead build on the ideas tossed out and see your success grow.

An important technique is saying, “Yes and…”  You agree with the “yes” and then add more information after saying, “and.”

For example Mary says, “the color of the fire extinguisher product box would look good in that fire engine red” and Dave says, “Yes, and… we could put a window here to let them see the extinguisher inside.”   Ideas build and flourish with, “yes and…”

Get started and try some of the skills methods found in this article or invite me to your next team building meeting and let’s get the minds exercising.

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