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 flickr.com.
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,
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011 www.humoratwork.com
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