Need to Boost Your Career? Improv It With Comedy

If you’re a fan of improv, you appreciate the beauty of thinking on one’s feet, staying present in the moment, and “Yes and”-ing your counterparts.

Well, apparently some business schools have caught the comedy bug as well. Although advanced business degrees aren’t necessarily a must-have for media folks like us, some top business schools are offering improv classes.

According to a blog post on NPR, Duke, UCLA, MIT and Stanford are teaching improv  mainly because professors indicate techniques boost collaboration, creativity and risk taking.

For example, as pointed out in the piece, an improvisational leadership class at MIT involved a scene with hospital administrators firing a surgeon after a horrible operation.

Reinforcing the main premise of improv better known as “yes, and,” performers must accept every idea presented. Essentially, every single idea is right and performers must build upon what’s been stated.

Daena Giardella explained to her class, “You generously give the offer, and then you try to bring something else to the table so that you’re building a scenario together, and no one person is totally responsible for that.”

Perhaps one of the basic premises isn’t so much about the offer but instead, how you take what’s in front of you to make it work.

And what better way to apply this to management if you’re supervising an employee who needs some hand holding or if you need to conversely manage up? How about working with a source who’s not exactly making your job easy with close-ended answers?

Considering it’s easy to get shot down at work — whether it’s your idea or a budget or anything for that matter — there’s certainly a lot of negativity we may not even notice on a daily basis. Giardella indicated this is more like a “yes, but” principle at work.

“Even though you say, ‘Yes,’ the but says, ‘Yeah, but that’s not really valid because here is the better point.’ “

By implementing improv classes at various grad schools, administrators and students alike seem to value improv skills and how they may positively impact work.

Publish date: December 11, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT