Category Archives: Blog

Improvisational Leadership: Use Improv to Avoid Leadership Pitfalls

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Most of us aspire to be great leaders—passionate, inspiring, thoughtful and productive. But we all know people in the business world who do a terrible job in leadership positions: awful bosses, disengaged department heads, ineffective team managers, and otherwise bad bigwigs in nice offices who make the work environment an unpleasant one.
So if we all have the potential to be great leaders, where do some go wrong? Perhaps some leaders have developed bad habits; some lack an understanding of what it takes to be a good leader; and some feel they’re leading well simply because they’re focused on their intention to lead, not the results of their leadership. I specialize in bringing improvisational skills to the workplace, and one of the key elements of improvisational thinking is the ‘self-audit’—the ability to be aware in real time of how you’re doing your job and how your actions and leadership style are impacting those around you.
A regular self-audit can keep you from slipping into one or more of the following leadership categories. If you find that some of your language, actions or habits are on this list, don’t worry—some simple improvisational techniques can help you fix them.

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Adapting an Improvisational Mindset

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by Patty Gaul

Achieve better business results by communicating differently.

With the increasing discussion around innovation, and the need to do business differently, many organizations are turning their usual way of operating on its head.

Many are working to instill a culture where risks are welcome, making small changes in process that can lead to new solutions, and asking questions to spur new thinking. One method that can support these changes and which is gaining ground is that of using improvisation.

Bob Kulhan is—along with Chuck Crisafulli—author of the soon-to-be-released Getting to “Yes and”: The Art of Business Improv. Kulhan is president, CEO, and founder of Business Improv, which creates executive education programs for top business schools in the United States and abroad, as well as leadership development and experiential learning programs for corporations, including many Fortune 500 companies. Among the organizations that have pursued Business Improv are Google, the Ford Motor Company, the U.S. Naval Academy, the United Nations, and Hilton Hotels.

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An Improviser’s Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

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The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us! The government has collapsed. Communication is down. Chaos is the new order. What do you do? Who do you team up with? How do you survive? On Sunday, October 23, the premier of Season 7 of The Walking Dead (TWD) will air. What follows is a memorandum on how to embrace change and thrive in the unexpected, told through the lens of an improviser.

Before we begin, let’s acknowledge that most of us already live in a world based in VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), at least in one form or another. It is also important to remember that in times of Crisis, Risk, Stress and Uncertainty, we fall back on our most overlearned behaviors. They are part of our muscle memory, and we rely on them. Because of that, we must remember to deliberately develop and strengthen a skill set that we can fall back on in turbulent times. Improvisation will be key to surviving a zombie apocalypse.

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How Improv Can Help Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Win the Debate

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Bob Kulhan is Founder and CEO of Business Improv and author of Getting to “Yes, And”: The Art of Business Improv”, out in January

They should apply the ‘yes, and…’ technique

If the primaries taught us anything, it’s that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should fully embrace the tenets of improv heading into their first presidential debate Monday night. This is tricky because American politics are as pre-packaged as a can of pork and beans. But once we get past the over-rehearsed lines that presidential candidates regularly regurgitate, we’ll have a real opportunity to see them “go off script” with a reactive and adaptive style of communication known as improvisation….

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Using Improv to Improve New Business

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Made famous by sketch shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and UCB comedians, improvisation has become a much-loved form of comedic entertainment. But what happens when improvisation takes a less likely route and is applied to business practices? After an evening at Access Confidential’s “Business Improv to Improve New Business” workshop, it turns out there are more than a few lessons that can be borrowed from improv to enhance interactions with coworkers and clients.

Below are key takeaways from the interactive, high-energy event, hosted by Business Improv CEO and Co-Founder Bob Kulhan. (P.S. Kulhan, pictured at top, was trained by Tina Fey, so you know he’s good!).

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How Improv Rocks This Learning

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Going off the cuff helps learning and performance. Take it from Ben Folds, jazz musicians in an MRI machine and an improv company’s founder.

Orchestra. Although he didn’t play “Kate” — a personal favorite for obvious reasons — he did deliver on the one thing every audience member expected and waited patiently for: his improvised song of the night that always has the same title but never sounds the same twice.

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How Improv Can Open Up the Mind to Learning in the Classroom and Beyond – By Linda Flanagan

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Long before Amy Poehler became famous for her comic roles as Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live,” and as indefatigable bureaucrat Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” she was a college freshman looking for something to do outside class. During her first week on campus, she auditioned for the school’s improvisational theater group, “My Mother’s Fleabag,” and discovered a passion. “Everyone was getting to act and be funny and write and direct and edit all at the same time,” she writes in her memoir, Yes, Please. “My college life sort of exploded in happiness,” she adds.

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The Introvert Entrepreneur – “Yes, And” and Beyond: A Conversation with Improv Pioneer Bob Kulhan

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Stand up in front of a group. No script. No prep. No rules. This is improv… in a way. It’s not quite as scary as that, even though that set-up is likely to send many an introvert running in the opposite direction. And in fact, what looks like a completely spontaneous improv situation actually DOES have rules, and there are ways to prepare yourself. Sure, there’s no script, but life doesn’t have a script, so who needs one? View whole story here.


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Best Business Schools 2014: Duke Tops Full-Time MBA List, Harvard Slips

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Business Improv is super excited for our great friends at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business for their outstanding achievement of claiming the coveted “Top Business School in America!” The Duke Fuqua School is such a phenomenal establishment and produces some of the very best MBAs, who are truly prepared for the workforce when they leave. We’re so proud to be able to partner with the #1 Business School in the country! Duke Fuqua was where Business Improv all began and through their great partnership, we were able to launch the world’s very first credit bearing improvisation business class; a class that will be in it’s 16th iteration this coming January. Once again, congratulations!

In addition to that exciting news, we are also thrilled to announce that our other fantastic University partners, Columbia Business School and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, were ranked #5 and #11 in the country, respectively! What an incredible honor to partner with three of the top eleven business schools in the country!

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Eight Keys to Better Brainstorming

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Business Improv is thrilled to welcome you to our blog! We’ve been hard at work coming up with a lot of great content to share with you, whether it be through posting newly released articles, showing you our latest video, or just sharing our thoughts on improv’s role in business and beyond. We’ll be posting regularly, so check back often!

To kick things off, we’ll start by asking a simple question: Is your team brainstorming for new ideas at its highest potential? Check out this article, written for Training Industry Magazine by our very own Bob Kulhan, for some fresh new tips on leading a better brainstorm!

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