What Improv Can Teach Your Team About Creativity and Collaboration

At Improv 2 Improve, we are huge advo­cates for play and improv-based learn­ing in schools. But social emo­tion­al learn­ing through improv is not only huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial for chil­dren, it also pos­i­tive­ly impacts adults and their abil­i­ty to thrive. Improv cre­ates a space for both chil­dren and adults to lis­ten, be heard, and engage with one anoth­er. This arti­cle from Fast Com­pa­ny illus­trates how improv can fos­ter bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty with­in work­place teams..


We knew any pre­sen­ta­tion by actors from The Sec­ond City, Chicago’s world-famous impro­vi­sa­tion troupe, would be fun­ny. But who knew we would walk away with key insights into cre­at­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive work environment?

Yet that’s exact­ly what hap­pened after we par­tic­i­pat­ed in an exer­cise led by Sec­ond City actors Colleen Mur­ray and Mark Sut­ton at our recent Client Sum­mit. Mur­ray and Sut­ton asked us and the 200 oth­er par­tic­i­pants to break into groups of three for an exer­cise that taught us a valu­able les­son about the pow­er of pos­i­tive rein­force­ment in fos­ter­ing cre­ativ­i­ty and innovation.

Next, Mur­ray and Sut­ton instruct­ed the three-per­son groups to rotate roles. Now a new per­son pitched ideas while the oth­er two lis­tened. But this time, instead of reject­ing the ideas out­right, the lis­ten­ers were instruct­ed to use a more sub­tle “yes, but…” response and share why the idea wouldn’t work. Again, it was a frus­trat­ing expe­ri­ence for the idea givers, who quit after try­ing a few times and get­ting nowhere.

Final­ly, the groups were instruct­ed to rotate roles again. This time the two lis­ten­ers were to use the phrase “yes, and…” to acknowl­edge, affirm, and build on the idea. The “yes, and…” response made all the dif­fer­ence. Ideas flowed. The groups gen­er­at­ed inno­v­a­tive, cre­ative approach­es that none of the indi­vid­u­als would have come up with on their own. The increase in ener­gy and col­lab­o­ra­tion was pal­pa­ble as the room buzzed with ani­mat­ed con­ver­sa­tions, laugh­ing, high fives, and every oth­er behav­ior you would expect to see when peo­ple are gen­uine­ly engaged with each other…contin­ue read­ing HERE

Lisa Poskanzer

Lisa Poskanzer

Lisa Poskanzer is the Director of Joy & Co-creator of Improv 2 Improve. Lisa finds joy walking on the beach and gardening.