5 STORIES OF IMPROV FOR BUSINESS. TEAM BUILDING & COLLABORATION, LEADERSHIP, CUSTOMER SERVICE, INNOVATION, & PRESENTATION SKILLS
CASE STORY 1: TEAM BUILDING & COLLABORATION
The SVP of Corporate Communications was having an annual retreat with his direct reports from around the world. They often met via video-conferencing, but rarely in the same room at the same time.
Having experienced improv before, he knew that it would make a huge difference in creating a sense of team, and that they would have a really fun time.
There was tons of laughter, people learned more about the other team members, and they left with a specific exercise to begin their video-conferences to get everyone as present and connective as they were at the offsite.
CASE STORY 2: LEADERSHIP
The head of HR of a large chain saw an opportunity to take team building and infuse it with training. Several stores had newly-minted department managers who had worked their way up the ranks. These managers were well-respected for their experience, but they didn’t have solid leadership skills. We worked with each store’s management team to give them the leadership skills they needed to direct people collaboratively. The goal was to embody the “team” spirit that was an integral part of the company’s mission statement. We ended up working with over 15 of their stores.
CASE STORY 3: CUSTOMER SERVICE
A public library was shifting its customer service model from employees behind desks answering questions, to one of employees on the floor interacting with, and empowering the library patrons. This was a huge shift that necessitated a completely new way of interacting.
We started with simple improv exercises that gave them the awareness and skills to stay connected and in “discovery mode” when interacting. Not just answer the question, but to see what’s under the question—what else might be useful and relevant to the patron.
They went on to present their transformative improv at state-wide and national conferences.
CASE STORY 4: INNOVATION
A staff member in learning and development saw how improv skills could be used to promote innovation. For this specific work group, the issue wasn’t an inability to collaborate, but the team’s culture of being “safe” with their contributions during collaboration. We worked with this group to first introduce them to the skills of improv. We then helped the team apply these skills to liberate creative freedom (ie to explore “bad ideas”) which led to much more innovative solutions. We offered this workshop in the company’s internal university for over two years, and then codified it into a train-the-trainer program that is now being delivered internally worldwide.
CASE STORY 5: PRESENTATION SKILLS
The president of a design firm wanted to raise the level of the company’s presentations to prospective clients. They often presented in teams, and the desire was to create more equality in those presentations so that the presenters felt more equal (a company value), and also so that prospective clients would see a confident, unified team, not just one strong presenter with some quiet colleagues.
We worked with the teams on the improv skills of building on each other’s ideas (Yes, And…), and “give and take.” We then applied these skills to group presentations.
By the end of the session, the presenters were trading off seamlessly and felt confident, equal, and supported while giving team presentations.