May 19

Improv Corporate Team Building

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“Team building.” It’s an elusive goal. It’s a catchphrase. It’s a certified buzzword. But what does it mean to build your team? Are you even on a team? Let’s find out.

  • Do you work with one or more other people?
  • Do you work toward a common goal?
  • Do you share skillsets, objectives, and a mission?
  • Do you compete against another team?

Hold on. Let’s work backwards. That last question may have felt ambiguous. In sports, it is easy to say one is on a team. You hone skills for the sole purpose of competing and winning against another team.

But what about our work team? Are we playing to win, or are we sharing our skills and resources to “win” in a less competitive sense? Maybe we are playing to win over a client, achieve a financial goal, or move our company to some defined next level. Sure, a competing business could be considered the adversary, but until you are pitching for the Dodgers, we encourage you to live in the fluidity between “team” and “ensemble.”

In improv performance, we often consider ourselves on a team. But ensemble is a more stage-friendly term. If you Google ensemble, the first definition is literally that of a group of musicians, dancers, or actors. If you’d rather not picture your co-workers donning tutus or wielding trombones, move on to definition number two: “a group of items viewed as a whole rather than individually.” Wow.

Now picture your co-workers as moving parts of the greater machine that is your ensemble. Imagine a clock. A clock has individual pieces, each moving in a perfectly specialized way to accomplish the common goal of progressing the hands forward and displaying the correct time, minute to minute. The pieces work in harmony, even though each has a different strength and a unique task. They help without assuming each other’s job, interlock without overwhelming, progress without pushing. This is the truest definition of ensemble.

How can improv help create this “like clockwork” environment? We build ensemble through listening, reacting, and most importantly, through “yes, and.” Onstage, improvisers are trained to accept (yes) the offers of their ensemble members, and further them with their own added information (and). This is how a simple offer of cake at the top of a scene becomes an invested relationship between a mom and daughter at a milestone birthday party.

Offstage, improvisers utilize this skill to foster their ensemble to become better listeners, and let’s be honest, better humans.

Even further offstage, improvisers apply these skills to business, where the challenge of “no, but,” micromanagement and mistrust threaten the tick-tock rhythm of progress.

This is where Vegas Improv Power comes in. As veterans of both improv performance and training, and as experienced business owners, we utilize the tenets of improvisation – yes and, listening/reacting, verbal/non-verbal communication – to build and grow your ensemble. Tutus and trombones are optional.*

*Improvisers never use real props or costumes. Don’t worry.


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