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Workplace blogs

Humor at Work: Improv Lessons for the Workplace

Improv Lessons for the Workplace

I just read Tina Fey’s autobiography Bossypants, a hilarious

read which included an insightful sidebar on work/life lessons

she gleaned from her years doing theater improvisation with

Second City in Chicago. As someone who uses theater improv from

time to time in my training workshops as a vehicle to talk about

creativity, humor, communication and leadership at work, this

naturally tweaked my interest. Here are Tina’s three lessons

(and yes, she and I are on a first name basis):

1. Improv only works well if you agree to the premise being

offered you, which means saying yes all the time. Imagine how

much greater your workplace might be if everyone said ‘yes’ more

often than they said ‘no’?

2. To build on ideas you need a “Yes, and” mentality in improv.

Same holds true if you want to be more creative at work. Fostering

a culture that supports “Yes, AND how can we make this idea even

better” mindset vs. a “But we tried that in 1957 so it’ll never

work” mindset is crucial for success.

3. There are no mistakes in improv, only opportunities. Applied in

the workplace, rather than “blame-storming” when mistakes happened,

what if everyone focused on brainstorming new opportunities that

might emerge out of a setback? What if you created an environment

where ideas are discussed without fear of judgment or ridicule

– where ideas are all accepted as potential right answers? And

what if you, the way BMW and other companies have done, created

programs to reward “smart mistakes” in the workplace?


Mike’s Fun at Work Tip

Create a fun ritual or rule that helps you keep your meetings

focused and ending on time. A wacky example comes from the

company that created the popular photo-sharing site

They created a “16 ounce rule” for meetings, wherein everyone must

drink a large glass of water at the start of the meeting, and then

as soon as the first person has to go to the bathroom, the meeting

is officially over!


Quote of the Week

“Humor loosens up your brain to think of more possibilities and

to be open to wild and wacky ideas.” Dr. John Morreall


It’s a Wacky World

Quick, it’s not too late to celebrate! Wednesday, May 25th is

official Nerd Pride Day! So break out those orange pants, proudly

Display that pocket protector and don’t be shy about sharing everything

you know about the classic “The Trouble with Tribbles,” episode #44,

of the original Star Trek series. Remember, as Bill Gates once said,

“Nerds rock!”


Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011

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