While there are many things we can’t predict about innovation and growth, we can confidently predict that we all will encounter obstacles of various sizes at some point along the journey.
Sometimes obstacles appear in the form of everyday problems such as misunderstandings. Other times, obstacles show up as life-changing events such as disasters. However, no matter the challenge, one thing that can help us all find our way to new solutions is using the power of improvisation.
While many people think of improvisation as it relates to comedy sketches, we’ve found that there are many other valuable uses for this type of communication. The best improvisation happens on an everyday basis through conversations we have with each other, with groups, and with teams. The essence of this art is finding ways to validate each other’s point of view and then work together as an ensemble to co-create new possibilities and plans for moving forward.
Someone who is a master at improvisation is Kelly Leonard, Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at The Second City, the famed Second City in Chicago. For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, and others. He’s also co-author of the book Yes and… Lessons from the Second City.
Today Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. He has presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDx Broadway, the Chicago Ideas Festival, The Stanford Graduate School of Business and for companies such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft and DDB Worldwide. He co-created and co-directs a new initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation.
Kelly also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City and WGN radio. The series features interviews with thought leaders such as Adam Grant, Simon Sinek, Angela Duckworth, Gretchen Rubin, Robert Sutton and more.
Download and listen on the go to our conversation with Kelly Leonard during a Growth Igniters® Radio episode from 2015. At the time, the Second City had just recovered from a serious fire. Find out more about the power of improvisation and how Kelly applied the concept of working with others as an ensemble to overcoming this major obstacle.