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.

Posted on 5th November 2010 in General

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