Encouraging Team Work Through Applied Improvisation


Applied Improvisation (AI) enhances teamwork! When practiced correctly, structured gameplay in a low-risk environment helps participants train and practice being master collaborators and team players. In fact, AI is making its mark in the corporate world as businesses see the benefit AI has in cultivating a sense of creativity and partnership among their workers. This is because AI curriculum teaches principles that are key for people to successfully develop relationships, connect, and work together to solve problems with concepts such as “Yes, And,” yielding, and knowing when to be big and when to be small. What is the point of having skills, talents, ideas/opinions if we do not know how to effectively share them with those around us? Or if we do not know how to collaborate with others to improve not only ourselves but our collectives?

Being able to be a team player who isn’t solely stuck in his or her own agenda is crucial to operating in any environment and achieving success in one’s goals. Though there is still some skepticism to AI education in schools and workplaces, this article should illustrate that they have a necessary place in both. You may think that AI curriculum is meant solely for the theatre lovers and performers or that this curriculum could not apply to the myriad of jobs that exist, but that would be a misguided approach to AI. At the end of the day, we are all human beings in our life experiences who, no matter what path we embark on, must engage with those around us. Where would any successful businesses be today if they refused to listen and accept the ideas of others? The art of accepting the offers given to us is the foundation of applied improvisation. The following AI philosophies that are at the core of AI structured gameplay brilliantly boost group teamwork in any environment they are introduced to:

-“Yes, And”: In other words, accept all offers. In Applied Improvisation gameplay, this is often used to propel a scene forward because by saying “Yes, And” to what our scene partners offer us or the circumstances we are given, we create more opportunities to let the scene progress, resolve conflict, and be creative. When we say “No, but,” we immediately close ourselves off from such opportunities, creating an uneventful scene that does not effectively move forward. This is because the scene partners are not having a productive dialogue with one another through rejecting one another. This same concept transfers into our day to day life as we create more opportunities with those around us by remaining open and saying “Yes, And.” Thus this concept encourages participants to accept everyone’s ideas and build upon them, which transfers over into their environments outside of the classroom as they can use these tools to collaborate and propel their personal and professional dialogues forward as a positive team player.

-Knowing when to be big and when to be small: Often in gameplay, we remind our participants to “Make your scene partner(s) look good,” which entails being respectful by actively listening when their scene partners are speaking, and being big when it is their turn to speak. This also applies in group energy work where groups have a common objective, where it is crucial to keep the group’s objective in mind instead of focusing on personal agendas. Thus, being small when needed is just as important as being big when it comes to working together. This further supports participants in becoming master team players as they practice respecting, accepting, yielding, and sharing among their fellow collaborators for the good of the group.

Through AI, participants are able to practice and implement these principles not just in gameplay, but in their day to day lives, which will serve any of their relationships well as they will have the skills to make a choice to be a master collaborator and team player! – Anja Philips

If you or your team is looking to improve their collaborations, communications, and creativity through a research-evidence based approach to Applied Improvisation, reach out as we are looking forward to working with you.


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2 thoughts on “Encouraging Team Work Through Applied Improvisation”

  1. This is so true! Over the years I’ve done improve I’ve learned how to work and colabtrate with other people, even people I struggle talking too. I’ve learned when to take control and when to just let other people take the lead.

  2. Dina Hunsberger

    What amazing work you are doing, Christiana! Thanks for making a difference and sharing your journey with others! ????????✨????

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