What’s the Deal With Improv in Business?

Posted by IMEC on Sep 30, 2020 8:37:56 AM

Written by Jon Colby, CEO /Founder of Jon Colby Speaks.

YESOver the past five years, countless articles have been published praising the benefits of improv in the business world. Forbes and Harvard are touting the applicability of the artform and its principles for all industries. These skills are more important now than ever - here are some actionable ways you can use these skills to have impact at the workplace.


The number one rule of improv is “Yes, and.” Starting with “Yes” means that conversations should begin from a place of agreement. Too often, people see obstacles and think, “I can’t do my job until something changes.” They start with “No.” That is simply not an acceptable answer. Successful businesses find creative solutions to these problems instead of blaming them for their lack of forward momentum.

Team Building

This is where the “and” part of “Yes, and” comes into play. Every member of an organization should be empowered to share ideas. When a new employee is hired or an existing employee is promoted, there seems to be an unspoken rule that they should be quiet and learn. They need to listen to their boss’s orders to succeed in the position. As they gain experience over time, however, those employees may develop insights and ideas that are unique from their superiors. If your leadership team is willing to listen to news ideas, the customer service experience can become more engaging, the sales team can be more responsive, and the manufacturing and distribution process can be streamlined.

Staff Retention

In addition to fostering innovative ideas, embracing a “Yes, and” mentality helps companies reduce turnover. The number one reason people leave their job isn’t money, a chance of upward mobility, benefits, or vacation time; it’s because they don’t feel valued. In fact, 66% percent of employees say they would quit if they didn’t feel appreciated [1]. We can only offer so many raises, recognition awards, and donuts in the break room, so it’s imperative that all employees feel that they contribute to the success of the organization in a way that is truly appreciated.

Customer Satisfaction

Like employees, customers need to feel valued. Too often salespeople focus on what they are going to say instead of listening to their client’s needs. “Yes, and” is more about listening than it is about talking.  Salespeople who embrace that mentality are able to listen attentively to their clients and be responsive to their needs in a way that makes clients feel that they matter to the organization.

86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience [2].


Implementing and mastering these skills takes a concentrated, methodical, investment of time and resources. Studies show that there is a positive return on this investment. If you build a team of great communicators that feels valued and happy, you’ll enjoy the following:

  • Raise sales by 37% [3]
  • Increase productivity by 31% [3]
  • Strengthen accuracy of task completion by 19% [3]
  • Improve customer satisfaction ratings by 50% [4]
  • Escalate returns to investors by up to 47% [5]

Improv isn’t just an opportunity to get your group together for a fun and engaging team building experience.  It’s a powerful tool which can help take your organization to the next level.

Have questions or ready to start your own improv training? Contact IMEC.

[2]Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand
[3]Harvard Business Review
[4]The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
[5]Willis Tower Watson



Written by IMEC

Topics: employee engagement, manufacturing, customer engagement, workforce coaching, Workforce Development

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