Corporate – The benefits of improvisation



“Improvisation comedy is wonderful example of the kind of thinking that ‘Blink’ is about. It involves people making very sophisticated decisions on the spur of the moment. Improv appears utterly random and chaotic. It seems as though you have to get up onstage and make everything up, right there on the spot. But the truth is that improv isn’t random and chaotic at all. Improv is an art form governed by a series of rules. How good people’s decisions are under the fast-moving, high-stress conditions of rapid cognition is a function of training … and creating the conditions for successful spontaneity.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
“Studying improvisation literally changed my life. The rules of improvisation appealed to me not only as a way of creating comedy, but as a worldview. In improv there are no mistakes, only opportunities.”
– Tina Fey in Bossypants
“A fundamental principle of improv is listening and accepting any initiation that’s made on the stage. I want my managers to listen and respond to their employees’ perceptions, not ignore them. Managers have to be open to accepting any kind of initiation.”
– Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter

“’s chief product and technology officer Lisa Kavanaugh confesses that she and other members of the executive team were ‘a little scared’ to try improv. When the Ask team finally dove in they discovered something totally different. ‘It was really transformative,’ says Kavanaugh. ‘Folks said it was the most impactful training session in their entire career.’ … Traffic is up 35% thanks to product development and enhancements to the site and mobile. There has been triple-digit growth on the mobile site month over month last year.”
FastCompany article, “It’s Not Quite Funny Or Die, But Improv Works To Fuel Powerful Innovation,” April 2012

Improvisation “draws on time-honored principles. They must be present in the moment, listening carefully, and contributing freely. These skills turn out to be particularly useful in workplaces that rely on adaptability.... Studies have shown that people can improve their communication skills and lower their anxiety with regular practice. Improv’s low-stakes training increases the likelihood that team members will feel comfortable communicating in a variety of work situations.”
Forbes article, “Why Improv Training is Great Business Training,” June 2014
“At first glance, zany improv and the straight-laced corporate world might seem to be unlikely bedfellows. But the cross-pollination between comedy and business has led to fruitful managerial skills development for executives …. When they’re collaborating onstage, improv performers never reject one another’s ideas—they say “yes, and” to accept and build upon each new contribution. That’s an important lesson in any business setting that demands cooperation and innovation. Improv also requires excellent listening skills, rewards those who shed their inhibitions and leap into the middle of the group dynamic, and offers valuable lessons about the wisdom of shrugging off setbacks.”
Slate article, “How Improv Comedy Skills Became a Must-Have for Entrepreneurs,” March 2014
“On the surface, business and comedy could not be more different. But the performance skill sets used in comedy routines are directly relevant to creating and maintaining a strong business culture. Improv training can teach startup founders and future entrepreneurs a thing or two about interacting with employees, investors and mentors.”
Entrepreneur article, “Improv and Comedy Can Infuse Companies With an Inventive Spirit,” July 2014
“So much of business – like life itself – is one big act of improv. People make plans but, if they accept that there’s a whole bunch of stuff they can’t control, then most of what they’re doing is improvising. Working without a script, creating something out of nothing, working in teams, co-creating solutions with input from the marketplace – all that’s improvising.”
– Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications.

More links:
VIRTUAL LUNCH & LEARN SERIES - Schedule a virtual training session
CORPORATE ENTERTAINMENT - We can help your message stick
COMMUNICATION & TEAMWORK - Our corporate workshops will tap your team's full potential
EXPERIENTIAL TRAINING & ENGAGEMENT - Strengthen your team with experiential training
Back to Impro Theatre's CORPORATE HOME PAGE

All of our shows and workshops are now virtual!
To find out more, contact us at or call (323) 401-6162.