Improvise Your Way to Success

Katy Montgomery

Katy currently serves as the Global Director of the Career Development Centre at INSEAD where she manages career services professionals across three campuses: Abu Dhabi, Fontainebleau, and Singapore. Katy previously served as the Associate Dean for Student Development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

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What do Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, Clorox, the Norwegian Cruise Line, and the U.S. Department of Education have in common?


Studying improv has been proven to improve emotional intelligence, increase creativity, and resilience to failure.

Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton of The Second City have written a book, Yes, And extolling the virtues of studying improv and how improvisation can teach individuals and teams (ensembles) how to generate ideas more quickly, communicate more effectively, and make something out of nothing (just to list a few of the benefits).

Here are the seven elements of improv according to the book:

  • Yes, And: Supports giving every idea a chance.
  • Ensemble: Fights “team killers”— need to be right, steal focus, and appear in control.
  • Co-creation: “Greater than its parts.”
  • Authenticity: Promotes confidence to speak to power, challenge conventions, and question the rules.
  • Failure: Deflates the negative power of failure; biggest threat to creativity is fear of failure.
  • Follow the Follower: Allows any member to assume leadership as long as his expertise is needed.
  • Listening: Keeps you in the moment.

Consider reviewing Yes, And and joining CDO for an improv workshop this fall in both DC and Harbor East. “Make ‘em laugh. Make ‘em think.”

The CDO staff actively reads a wide range of professional development material, and we look forward to sharing the bits of wisdom we find with you, our dedicated readers, through The Good Reads blog series.

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