Improvisation is about not knowing what you’re going to say next.
Improvisation TRAINING is about learning how safe and exciting that place can be.
Years training expertise
Why did we establish Business Improvers?
Our training helps participants gravitate away from a fixed mindset and towards a growth mindset - where confidence and agility come to the fore in interactions and when challenges present themselves. If you’re wondering if or how our training might be useful to you, try asking yourself the following questions…
- Do you sometimes wish you could come up with new ideas faster?
- Do you sometimes keep quiet because you don’t want to risk being wrong?
- Are you sometimes more focused on what you’re going to say next than really listening to a client or colleague?
- Is your workforce generally agile and innovative, open to new challenges and ready for change, or could it do with a boost?
- Do you foster a culture of ‘dare to try’ or might you be squashing that all important ‘spirit of enquiry’ that promotes growth?
These are just some of the areas in which our training can be transformative.
Where did our story begin?
Our ideas around the use of improvisation as a training tool in business grew out of the work that co-founders John Nicholson and Kim Lawrence were doing within the education sector. They used improvisation techniques to address the paralysis that can set in for primary school children when they are stuck – causing them to retreat, disengage or try to hide the truth.
From their background in theatre, John and Kim already knew that improvisation training helped actors, writers and directors increase levels of confidence and resilience in finding solutions to challenges faced in the rehearsal room. Their expertise in this field led to an invitation from King’s College London to collaborate on investigating the potential impact of theatre improvisation on teacher training: Could improvisation training help teachers in the UK develop inspiring ways to engage pupils in curriculum learning (particularly in science subjects)? Selective, small studies already carried out in Scandinavia certainly point favourably in that direction.
Why did we think this was applicable to the business world?
During the research, it became progressively clear that the skills being developed with teachers - around agility, listening, creative thinking and ideas generation - were the same skills that current business leaders were struggling to find in candidates during recruitment (and the same skills they were seeking to develop within their existing work-forces).
In fact, the urgency is such that the current President of the CBI Paul Drechsler recently called upon policymakers to:
“Make education in England about more than results and rote learning, and prioritise teaching that encourages thoughts, questions, creativity and teamworking”.
He went onto say that
“Education’s power is to give people not just what they need to operate in today’s workplace, but the spirit of enquiry that allows them to shape tomorrow’s too.”
Tham Khai Meng, co-chairman and worldwide chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather wrote similarly (in 2016) that:
‘Creativity is the most powerful competitive advantage a business can have. Companies need to fizz with new ideas and fresh thinking. But there’s a problem - we spend our childhoods being taught the artificial skill of passing exams. By the time we get into industry, we have been conditioned to conform. We spend our days in meetings and talk about “thinking outside the box”. But rarely do we step outside it. So, what can be done? Firstly, we need to debunk the notion that creativity is something mysterious, elusive and cannot be taught. We need to talk about empowering people to use their imagination.’
Sir John Cridland, former head of the CBI talks about
‘the need in business for numerate drama graduates.’
Improvisation training is a hand in glove fit with this ambition for the business world.
What impact will Business Improvers training have?
The brilliant thing about using improvisation training for business is that there’s no firewall. For a participant, the beneficial impact is almost immediate. Through the games and exercises we have developed, people immediately start to notice (and laugh about) traits in their behavior that might be holding them back. They’re then handed practical techniques that can be used to unlock new responses and also strategies to help strengthen their confidence to tread new ground.
We can all easily gravitate towards comfort zones of habitual behavior. But this can have big repercussions in the competitive world of business. It can result in potentially great ideas being censored and interactions restricted because people don’t want to risk being wrong or risk being challenged. Ultimately this can restrict the capacity of a team to deliver effectively and competitively. The significant impact and power of Improvisation training to combat this is currently more recognized in the US than in the UK. But the wave of interest is rapidly heading towards Britain and Business Improvers are one of the very first British companies to be offering this progressive form of training for the business sector.