TOOL: Make a strong choice

There’s a new dance craze sweeping the nation – maybe you’ve seen it where you work or in social interactions, or at a company presentation, or on an improv stage.

Let’s call it the “polite dance”.

It usually looks like this, “you go”, “no – you go”, “no, YOU go”, “oh please – no you, please. I insist”.

Politeness paralysis.

The polite dance is one we often revert to for many different reasons: we don’t want to offend, we are unsure of our own choices, are more comfortable following than leading, are unsure of a direction, etc.

One tool in the Improvisers toolbox is the ability to make a strong choice.

Making a strong choice means learning how to trust instincts, give and take, develop the confidence to speak for ourselves, to make a choice rather than waver in indecision-land — which also happen to be key skills leaders need.

TOOL: Create opportunities for connection

Here is an important tool to add to your toolbox that doesn’t require an internet connection, or proper knowledge of emoticons.

It’s connection.

How can you create or find more opportunities to increase cross-functional support, empathy, collaboration and trust across an organization?

It can start with increasing the frequency and quality of interactions that your staff has with each other every day. It means increasing the ability to connect with your peers, share ideas, break down barriers and step away from your computer screen.

Create more opportunities for your staff to interact and get to know each other.

In designing the layout of Pixar Animation Studios, Steve Jobs famously requested there only be one restroom location  in the building – so that employees would have more opportunities for the kind of spontaneous interaction that fuels creativity. Today we see many companies bringing in catered lunches or creating cafeterias and open spaces which can encourage a sense of community, connection and camaraderie.

Sometimes building connections is as simple as providing opportunities for employees to work  with those they wouldn’t normally interact with.

The DreamWorks Improv Performance troupe is made up of wonderful people who represent almost every department at the company. We have animators interacting with visual effects artists interacting with engineers.

When there is a problem to solve across departments, these employees are no longer strangers to each other – they are allies and generous collaborators. The trust developed on stage carries over into the work environment and helps to build a stronger organization.

The more opportunities you can create to bring different departments, viewpoints and strengths together, the more connections will be formed to enhance the innovative and collaborative tendencies of your organization.

Step one to humanizing an organization is to create more opportunities for human connection. It starts with stepping away from the computer. 

How to foster a culture of courage and creativity

Innovation requires courage and creativity, which can be difficult to foster and maintain in a culture“, says’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, Lisa Kavanaugh.’s innovation strategy is one many companies are adopting:  to teach Improv skills to every member of their company.

These Improv skills are used as tools to build a safe work environment where ideas are encouraged, shared and built upon.

Hear from the team about the success of this important initiative here.