Being able to improvise and adapt to changing environments is an important skill. So important, in fact, that most people improvise something in their lives every single day, given the complexity of our lives and the ubiquitous nature of change in modern society. Despite the frequency of improvising in our lives, however, we seldom even realize that we are “in the moment” and creating something new- or have the opportunity to create something new. This is especially true in organizations where time pressures and other stressors force us to react to problems, or blind us to new opportunities, rather than explore our options and discover more effective, creative problem solutions and, perhaps, even new ways to disrupt an entire industry. The primary learning goals of this textbook are to increase the awareness of this skill in ourselves, and the organizations we belong to, and, secondly, to provide the practical tools that leaders and individuals can use to further develop those skills. Yes, we can learn how to improvise!
Improv(e) Business: Developing Skills for Personal and Professional Success is designed to first establish an introduction to the concept of improvisation in various organizational functions: communication, team building, strategy, innovation, service, and in other important ways it contributes to the establishment of a positive, innovative culture in organizations. Each of the book’s chapters will also employ the “scaffolding” education process where improvisation processes will first be explained and then demonstrated to the students with examples, games, exercises, etc. Instructors will then step back and allow the students to explore the concepts on their own, providing assistance and support to the students when needed.
The Facilitator’s Guide, which accompanies the text, expands the range of practical exercises and games that can help build these improvisation skills in individuals and organizations. A companion web-based instructional video library, demonstrating how to conduct these exercises, as well as suggestions for debriefing them for learning purposes, is also included.
About the Authors
CHAPTER 1 The Story and the Game
CHAPTER 2 Communication
CHAPTER 3 Teams
CHAPTER 4 Creativity and Innovation
CHAPTER 5 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
CHAPTER 6 Strategy
CHAPTER 7 Organizational Culture and Change
Appendix: Doing Improv Online – Some Suggestions
Gary Shields is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business in the heart of Detroit, Michigan. After earning his MBA from Wayne State, Gary has taught a variety of management courses for Detroit's Business School during the last 30-plus years, including a graduate course in improvisation for business that he currently teaches with this book's co-author Rico Bruce Wade. He and Rico also teach several student-focused improv workshops at the university. Gary is a graduate of the Second City Training Academy, where he had the good fortune to study with some of the modern masters of theatrical improvisation, later adapting those improvisation skills for use both in the college classroom as well as in his start-up businesses and consulting work. His dream is to someday open an improv club in Detroit, so he hopes you like this book and tell your friends!
Rico Bruce Wade is an actor, writer, producer, and comic and is part of one of North America's richest comedy traditions, the Second City. As a mainstage cast member of the Second City-Detroit, Rico co-wrote and performed in six revues, including Computer Chips and Salsa and One Nation Undecided. He also directed the Second City-Detroit touring company. Rico eventually completed his Second City resume by becoming producer of the Detroit venue. He was also co-producer of the television series Film Fest 7 with the Second City. Rico has designed and facilitated workshops in improvisation for over 20 years. Mr. Wade has appeared in numerous Flint Rep productions, including the World Premiere of The Boatman, Into The Woods (Wilde Award Best Supporting Actor in a Musical), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. His film work includes lead roles in Ken Nelson’s Sincerely, Brenda, Scot Magie’s FOUR-NINETY, and Jeff Wray’s Songs for My Right Side. Rico is an instructor at Wayne State University and a teaching artist with the Detroit Creativity Project, Planet Ant Theatre, and the Michigan Actors Studio.