The Postmodern Executive

By Chris Hoff

The Postmodern Executive

The Value of Improvisation For Your Business or Organization


I would like to make a suggestion for the next time you have to decide which sales training or leadership development seminar you need to send your sales or management team. Scrap the traditional approaches for a moment and send them all to an improvisation class. Yes, an improvisation class.

Many people view improvisation as the domain of actors or comedians but in reality all of us are improvising some of the time. Improvising requires spontaneity, becoming comfortable with the unexpected, breaking from a script, and not following the rules. Unfortunately in many organizations and businesses, communication and relational practices have become the opposite of the unscripted nature of improvisation, or what human learning and development expert Lois Holzman describes as “old performances.”

Just one look at some of the core principles of improvisation gives one the idea why these relational resources would be good for any organization that may be struggling in the areas of leadership development, sales management, or employee engagement:

1.     Make everyone else look good
2.     Allow yourself to be changed by what is said and what happens
3.     Co-create a shared “agenda”
4.     Be fully present and engaged
5.     Keep the energy going
6.     Seek the good of the whole
7.     There are no mistakes
8.     Be prepared
9.     Yes, and.. (Acknowledge the moment, look to the future)

 According to Holzman improvisation is an activity of collaboration, transformation, and discovery that invites people to work with everyone and everything in a continuous creative process. Improvisation creates a learning environment where participants begin to embrace the unexpected, take risks, build with others, and interact in new and creative ways. So the next time you are looking through the stack of training brochures deciding where the next training will happen. Maybe a look at your local theatre company’s website should be included.

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