Amy Poehler thinks so. She has a non-stop reputation for being incredibly nice, smart and hilarious.

She says learning Improv taught her most of what she knows about the best way to run her life as well as any organization. There are three important rules.

1. Say Yes And.

It’s really THE Golden Rule of Improv. She gives a great example of your improv partner walking on stage and saying, “Watch out! There’s a scary alien behind you!” You could say, “What alien? I don’t see an alien.” OR you could say “Oh, that alien over there? That’s my chemistry partner Alison.”  Which one is more fun? Which one moves you forward? The Yes answer.

The key to work situations is to add to ideas and contribute…instead of criticizing and killing ideas. Innovation and solving complex problems require a limitless imagination.

2. Don’t Apologize. Admit You Made a Mistake, Applaud Yourself and Move On.

Can you imagine taking all the sting out of making a mistake at work? Imagine how much faster your organization could move forward, and how much more forthcoming people would be. New language would have to be used because mistakes wouldn’t need to be problems anymore – it’s possible there’d be a lot of talk about new learnings!

One of Amy’s teachers required her group to clap when someone admitted to a mistake. I can’t imagine how much my inner dialog would change if all the self-criticism for making mistakes (or almost making mistakes) went away.

Disallowing failure in organizations hinders creativity and growth. If you want to move forward faster, the key is to welcome the new learnings!

3. Collaboration and Communication Are Key.

Improv doesn’t work unless there is collaboration. You need to communicate effectively with the audience as well as with your partner or team.  )And part of that communication is listening.) If you aren’t all on the same page, the scene will fail miserably.

To succeed in any rapidly changing organization, people can’t operate as silos – there must be  communication and collaboration. To solve a social issue, communication across many social strata is often required,  and working well together can make all the difference!

A Couple of Notes

As a personal challenge, I started taking Improv classes a couple of years ago. I’ve found that the biggest enemy to having a really interesting, fun scene is the criticism. It could be the self criticism of a performer, or it could be people criticizing each other or the scene. Improv, for me, has become a Jedi practice of non-criticism. The more I practice and improve in this one area, the more fun I have and the more I contribute.

It’s a great Improv practice and an even better life practice.


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