Business Magazine

10 Keys To A Business Culture That Can Adapt Quickly

Posted on the 03 February 2017 by Martin Zwilling @StartupPro

improv-comedy-and-businessAs an entrepreneur, you have to improvise and adapt quickly to survive and thrive in the face of the unpredictable challenges of the market. But this improvisation a not a comedy, although there are some distinct correlations, in relation to reacting, adapting, and communicating. In business and in comedy, you win most often with “Yes, and …” instead of “Yes, but ….”

I definitely learned a few things about how to improvise effectively in business from a new book, “Getting to ‘Yes And’: The Art of Business Improv,” by Bob Kulhan, who is a master of the art in both comedy and business. Kulhan is a professor at the Duke University School of Business, but was trained in improvisation by some comedy greats, including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

He draws on cognitive and social psychology as well as behavioral economics to show the rest of us in business how to think on our feet, and approach business challenges with fresh eyes and mental agility. From my own perspective of many years as an executive and startup advisor, I recommend his improvisational keys to improving the culture of your business:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try, and fail, before you succeed. You can’t learn and adapt quickly to the changing needs of your customers and the marketplace if you are afraid of failure. As in comedy, you have to take risks, think outside the box, and be willing to face some brutal feedback, to find the path that works, all with a smile on your face.

  2. Tell you team what you want, plus why and how. Be explicit on your intent. Team members can’t help you change if they don’t clearly understand where they need to go and how to get there. There is no set formula for change in business, so you need to improvise with a positive message. Everyone is turned off by a “Yes, but …” response.

  3. Always acknowledge ideas and add to them. This “Yes, and …” phrase is an improvisational technique long used to move people forward. Make sure everyone understands the power of this phrase when sharing opinions and suggestions, and in holding people accountable. Teach them how to actively observe and listen to input.

  4. Get buy-in through participation and feedback. By openly requesting and rewarding feedback, you are demonstrating that you value employee input and you want to include everyone in the decision process. Team involvement encourages everyone to buy-in, in spite of the work it entails, because they feel personal ownership in the business.

  5. Build team trust through shared experiences. Teams need to bond, and that can start with an off-site structured event. The key is not only to have everyone in the same place, but to have them share a memorable experience in a place that will connect them further in the future. Bonding is always enhanced through team recognition and awards.

  6. Routinely schedule team exercises and challenges. The message here is that practice makes perfect. We see this in the Olympics and professional sports. You and your team need to be well-oiled, and able to work together automatically, before you can hope to react quickly to changes in the marketplace. Improvisation does require training.

  7. Leaders must be the example. Entrepreneurs need to walk the talk, be consistent, passionate, and accountable for their actions. No matter what happens, you must be the model of the “Yes, and …” approach – always communicating the need for change, and leading the charge to listen, learn, and adapt. Business culture is set by leader actions.

  8. Empower your team to initiate the change process. Ownership is essential in creating an inclusive environment. Empower your team to help you create and protect this culture. Don’t let blame rear its ugly head. Make sure they have the resources and the education to get change done with you, or without you. They need a level of comfort to improvise.

  9. Remove those who refuse, or undermine the team. A smaller team working well together is much more effective than a larger dysfunctional team, just as it would be in a comedy troupe. Often, it’s in the best interest of the team, the company, and certainly the employee to part ways or move to a new team before permanent damage is done.

  10. Be tenacious to make required change happen. The leader who is a tenacious implementer of change will always follow-up on the initiatives started. You can cause “change fatigue” by jumping randomly from one idea to another, with no follow-through. All change needs to tie back to basic principles, values, and objectives of the business.

Who would have guessed that the techniques practiced by comedy troupes would have such applicability to businesses? It’s just another example of the value of thinking outside the box, and reframing of disciplines from one domain to another. Are you using that level of thinking in your business? The future of your business may depend on it.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Express Your Ex With Gemstone Diamond Engagement Rings

    Express Your With Gemstone Diamond Engagement Rings

    Morganite engagement rings have grown to be symbolic of real love and commitment to that modern couples. A diamond ring you proudly you should get some... Read more

    11 hours, 59 minutes ago by   Jayshreebhagat
  • To Die For Blondies


    What is a Blondie? It is the dense, more caramel like version of a brownie, but every bit as dense and fudgy in texture. They are incredibly sweet and incredibl... Read more

    12 hours, 35 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
  • Go Organic with Kin-Kin Natural – Eco Friendly Natural Dishwashing Liquid

    Organic with Kin-Kin Natural Friendly Dishwashing Liquid

    If you are contemplating changes to your home and life in an effort to be more responsible to the environment you need to start using natural and organic... Read more

    13 hours, 6 minutes ago by   Kravelv
  • Like Nowhere Else: the Allure of Panama’s Guna Yala

    Like Nowhere Else: Allure Panama’s Guna Yala

    Headwinds. Choppy seas. Eyeball navigation through reefs where the usual tropical cues are absent. Days of gray skies. Taciturn communities. Few supplies. Read more

    The 22 March 2018 by   Behan Gifford
  • BNV004: 10 Tips for Becoming a Brand New Vegan

    BNV004: Tips Becoming Brand Vegan

    In episode 4 of the Brand New Vegan podcast, I give you my top 10 Tips for Becoming a Brand New Vegan.  Photo by Hans Splinter | cc Flickr Be sure and stop by... Read more

    The 22 March 2018 by   Chuck Underwood
  • Concert Review: Evil Never Dies

    Concert Review: Evil Never Dies

    Judas Priest, Saxon, Black Star Riders rock Newark. by Paul J. Pelkonen The mighty Judas Priest (l.r. Richie Faulkner, Scott Travis, Rob Halford, Andy Sneap, Ia... Read more

    The 22 March 2018 by   Superconductor
  • Designer Daddy’s Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

    Designer Daddy’s Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

    Road trips were a big part of my childhood. As a military family, that meant lots visits to grandparents and cousins each summer and Christmas. Most of these... Read more

    The 22 March 2018 by   Designerdaddy