Supporting Cultural Change with Improvisation

Challenging the existing culture in a large organisation is risky and invigorating. I recently worked with a forward thinking VP within a global blue chip company who is commited to driving change. He brought together  a large team, laid out the vision and invited their input. With significant buy-in and enthusiasm clearly evident it was time to experience change rather than just talk about it. So we improvised together for one hour. Begining with simple warm-ups and an invitation to take risks and be real, we progressed to performing a 15 minute “Whose Line is it Anyway?” style show on stage. Mistakes and blank minds were wildly celebrated and the VP himself modelled the values by stepped boldly into the unknown in front of everyone.

The energy in the room was electric and the feedback overwhelmingly positive “Euphoria” was one description of the experience. We had lit the blue touch paper and unleashed a storm of courage and creativity.

Here’s why it worked; when improvisation is practiced and delivered well it speaks to fundamental needs that humans have had hard wired in them for tens of millennia, these include:

+ Knowing they are appreciated and valued

+ Being heard

+ Making an effective contribution

+ Feeling supported and encouraged

+ Working together for a common aim

By involving the head, heart and body and bringing attention into the present moment we celebrate being alive and creative; we begin to undo the deadening and isolating effects of unbalanced education systems and soulless working environments.

It takes courage and commitment from business leaders to transform their culture – they face discomfort, embarrassment and they risk making mistakes. When they can rely on outstanding support from teams who are willing to embody new skills and collaborate with generosity then they are unstoppable.

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John Cremer
Improv

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" I was amazed at what my people got out of the session. It was great fun, very stimulating and gave people fresh insights into what they were capable of as well as helping to recognize diverse approaches and styles in the group "
David Parry-Jones ,
General Manager
Enterprise Partner Group
Microsoft

"Our practice event was a great success. John created a safe environment that allowed people to feel comfortable with putting themselves forwards. Delegates were surprised at how funny they could be and the more we got it wrong the funnier it became. Throughout the session we related the skills that were being learnt back to our workplace. Overall this was an extremely successful event."
James Yearsley
Partner - Deloitte

"It is rare, perhaps unique, for us to give a standing ovation to any speaker. The session you gave us was outstanding, full of fun and laughter, great for bonding, and will bring learning at many levels."
Brian Chernett,
CEO -
The Academy For Chief Executives