Your Team Is An Improv Group


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Every team in a business setting is an improv group. I don’t care what kind of business you are in or work for – every business team is an improv group.

Sure, you may not call yourself that. Yet, you are.

An improv team creates together on the fly. They pivot, adapt and are agile in how they approach solving challenges.

Not only is every team an improv group whether they recognize it or not, every human is an improviser because they have to make decisions every day and adapt. Every day things change and new decisions have to be made.

And it’s time to change the narrative because it matters.

Here’s the thing… Yes your team is an improv group. And it may be a sucky group (it happens!) or it can be a wonderful group that works well together. Being an improv group does not mean you are GREAT. There are some awful improv teams and wonderful ones – just as there are crappy and happy business teams.

Same damn thing. I have been performing and teaching improv and improv techniques in business for over 20 years AND I led tech marketing and communications teams for 15 years in Silicon Valley.

There is NO difference among them.

Bad team dynamics exist in both. And so do great team dynamics. Those dynamics are the same.

Each Day Every Member of That Team Makes a Choice

Here’s what it means: every day you work with your team on things that change. That means every day, you and your team members can make new decisions about how you show up. If you are going to work together, you decide every day how you are going to show up for each other. You can make decisions about how to be better together and change your work dynamic.

All improv teams go through ups and downs and learning curves. And they have performances they love and ones they’d just as soon forget. I know all too well.

You can be a sucky improv team or a good one. The point is you decide every day how YOU will show up for the team you work with.


To be a great team – in any organization and on the improv stage – members:

  • Listen to each other
  • Accept the reality of the moment
  • Add on to further each others’ ideas (not your or my idea – it becomes OUR idea. This is the often referred to concept of ‘yes and’)
  • Are present in the moment so they can listen and be their best
  • Make each other look good by having each others’ backs
  • Are willing to take risks
  • Accept that failure is part of the process
  • Make it safe for people to fail and take calculated risks so playful creativity flourishes
  • Celebrate learning that comes from trying
  • Know that mistakes are gifts because they lead to discovery and learning
  • Laugh together easily
  • Trust each other

That describes high-functioning teams at work AND on improv stages.

Whether you realize it or not, your team is an improv group. It can be one that sucks or one that performs at a higher frequency. You and all its members get to decide how you will show up. You choose what kind of team you will be.

I hope you make it a high-performing one. Yes and….That is YOUR choice.

Whether you realize it or not. You are an “ensemble.” It’s time to change the old story to a new narrative of choice, bravery, and having each others’ backs.

Let me know what you think.


Ready? I taught brave leadership to the AWS Team at Amazon using powerful improv tools. That means big ideas, less fear, lots of laughter and change. Improv teaches us to work together, to listen, to collaborate, to stop pushing your idea vs. my idea and to create new OUR ideas together. And OUR stories.

What can I do for your leadership team?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kathy Klotz-Guest
For 20 years, Kathy has created successful products, marketing stories, and messaging for companies such as SGI, Gartner, Excite, Autodesk, and MediaMetrix. Kathy turns marketing "messages" into powerful human stories that get results. Her improvisation background helps marketing teams achieve better business outcomes. She is a founding fellow for the Society for New Communications Research, where she recently completed research on video storytelling. Kathy has an MLA from Stanford University, an MBA from UC Berkeley, and an MA in multimedia apps design.


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