On December 12th, I had a great chat with Kat Koppett. Kat is a fellow improviser-in-chief who also applies concepts from stage improvisation to the needs of business to improve performance. This means accepting others ideas and adding onto them (vs. denying them) in order to create new ideas and new ways of thinking about existing issues/products/ideas/processes/etc.

Innovation and The Power of Improvisation

Innovation is not always about resources; it’s about creative ideas and agile execution. A global 2010 survey of 1500 Chief Executive Officers by IBM uncovered that creativity was named the most important skill needed for 21st century competitive marketplaces. Improvisation applied to specific business issues can drive new ideas, better decision-making and more agile execution.

Improvisation has reached a tipping point in business. It’s taught in b-schools and used by top companies to teach employees to be more innovative, adaptable, and to improve business performance. As an improviser and marketer, I know adaptability is critical to market success in dynamic environments.

Your Human Summary – You’re Welcome

You’ve got to listen to the podcast to get all the good stuff; here’s some juicy highlights:

1. Improvisation is something everyone does everyday. It’s not just on a stage. Business is improvisational and about performing. Not about theatricality; it’s about showing up and being more present. It’s not about ‘acting.’

2. Culture matters, and it’s probably the most important innovation any company can undertake. Want innovation? Create a place that encourages. A culture that talks about it without making a safe place to fall lacks credibility. You get one shot to prove to your employees that your culture walks the talk.

3. I point out that innovation isn’t just products or services; it’s culture, business models, processes, communication. Anything can be innovated and most innovation isn’t revolutionary; I believe most is evolutionary. The small stuff matters. Sometimes you have to ‘think in the box.’

4. Small acts of courage/risk can be a big thing. Get out of your comfort zone even a small amount. Kat talked about changing how you show up in a meeting. If you’re a talker; listen more. If you are silent, make an effort to speak up more. Zig-zag from your normal behavior and see what happens.

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