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5 Key Principles Of Organisational Improv

Thinking like an improviser to kickstart your organisation.

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Be Present and Listen Deeply

We often get preoccupied with what has happened (the past) and what we want (the future). We somehow forget to embrace the present. Instead of listening fully and hearing the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the people speaking, we are thinking about what we will say. We are working out how we can seem smart, funny, likeable, accomplished, etc. When we listen deeply we are able to make stronger connections and build trust. These qualities allow us to create amazing things together.

Embrace Uncertainty

We can all be held back by procrastination, for which there are many reasons. Sometimes it's blank page syndrome, sometimes it's a lack of comfort or confidence. Improvisation asks us to get comfortable with those feelings of uncertainty. It supports the idea of reframing the blank page as an opportunity instead of a cause for anxiety.

Make Offers and Be Open To Failure

To start anything in life, we need to be bold and make an offer. In taking that risk, you invite opportunity. You open up possibilities for good and interesting things to happen. This principle is at the heart of innovation and is greatly leaned upon in the startup culture and industry. Sometimes things work, sometimes not and we experience failure. That's when we learn to get back up with humility and grace. We learn from our failures and grow each time.

An Attitude of "Yes, and..."

"Yes, and..." (for the uninitiated) is a conversational tool - where you listen to other people and then respond with the word yes (to demonstrate support or appreciation). Then you say "and... [something that adds to what they've said]" (to build on their idea and show how deeply you listened). It's a way of connecting to others.

As you become more practiced with it, you don't have to use the words at all. In fact, it can become an attitude or approach to conversations. It can even be something you use in your own self-coaching.

At its core, this approach is about seeing almost every situation as an offer or opportunity rather than a problem or disaster. It's this attitude that helps us to learn from failure and grow.

Empower Others Through Kindness and Generosity

Improv teaches us to make each other look good. In practice, this means taking the opportunity to elevate other people and their ideas. To recognize and acknowledge other people's achievements and inputs. Good team players know that the team wins together or loses together. When we are centered around kindness, we look for opportunities to empower our colleagues to be their best selves and we inspire others to do the same.