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Improve your Facilitation process using Applied Improvisation



Improve your Facilitation process using Applied Improvisation

So, what makes a good facilitator? What are the benefits of Applied Improvisation and how could this be capitalized upon in your business? Read on to find out.

The inherent skills of a good facilitator 

Reflect on a time where you have facilitated a workshop or a learning event. The main reason for it would have been to bring different ideas, leverage shared experiences and/or create deep learning.

Good facilitators have the skills to be inclusive and manage diverse people in a group. They will set out grand rules, encourage new ideas and sense the emotions in a room. They will be good listeners and synthesizers; conveying many words into a few that create better outcomes and decisions.

However, one thing facilitators often fail to do is to create collaborative practices and mindsets in each and every participant. This collaborative mindset allows a group of people to work together towards something new; it requires (considered)risk taking and the ability to accept unexpected changes and uncertainty.

The benefits of using improvisation and AI

Creativity is a trait we are all born with as humans. It is well understood that a certain part of the brain (sometime referred to as right brain thinking), allows the connection of intuition, experience and intellect.

Studies(1,2) have shown that the skills of improvisation can help with better management of unexpected changes and uncertainty. It improves collaboration, builds confidence, and increases the ability to absorb new ideas. 

“Improvisation is probably one of the two or three cardinal skills for business to learn in the future…” John Kao, Harvard Business School.

Although improvisation originates from theatre the power of Applied Improvisation (AI) takes it away from ‘role playing’ or ‘scene improvisation’ to a place where these tools can be used in workshops for organisations in addition to a range of other possibilities.

AI uses methods that are collaborative and creative. Built deeply inside these methods is the experience of fast failure, team working, creative thinking and inclusion. To make breakthroughs in making important decisions is not about pitting one idea against another, but a common sense of direction and purpose using creative thinking. It is for this reason, AI methods could be extremely powerful in your organisation.

The reason why applied improvisation should be considered in your business 

At a recent workshop/training for a leading organisation engaged in inclusion and diversity, we used the tools of AI extensively. In fact, 100% of participants rated the course as excellent due to the events being informative, creative and fun. Having facilitated many workshops, rarely have I had the instance where every person has rated it as excellent, which demonstrates the power of AI.  Moreover, AI was a factor in allowing concrete decisions and well-honed next steps from the workshops. 

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Within AI we use many methods that that are interwoven with the facilitated subject topics. Such  methods include:

  1. Creating stories using ‘building’ methods with no barriers
  2. Creating high range of options in any situation using spontaneity 
  3. Accepting and building on a situation, i.e. collaboration 
  4. Communicating simply (e.g. by restricting number of words)
  5. Understanding ‘body language’ by moving away from the words used in a conversation to the way they are conveyed
  6. Working with failure; where failure is not only accepted but celebrated, allowing the seeds for success. 

There is a vast amount of AI games which can be adapted to the problem at hand. Improv based workshops can help any organisation from a small charity to a corporate giant as. At my organisation kinetik solutions, a management consultancy,  have used AI with an investment bank, at and advisory firm, charities and in the education sector.

“Improv has a place in the world of mediation. Moments from this training will help our mediators to cope with the unexpected as well as enhancing our ability to develop rapport with clients.” Chief Exec, Mediation Hertfordshire.

In conclusion creativity is a trait we are all born with as humans. Creating collaborating and creative mindsets through workshops using the tools of AI will lead to better outcomes and sustainable change in your organisation.


1. White S, “How an improv class can help develop essential business skills”, Financial Management Magazine.

2.“Why Improv Training Is Great Business Training”, Forbes Leadership Forum.