Building a successful business has very much to do with the team having strong communication skills. Author of the recent book Getting to "Yes And" The Art of Business Improv, Bob Kulhan, talks about using improv to build team work, collaboration, better engagement and mindfulness.

Knowledge@Wharton: You got into looking at this for what reason?

Kulhan: I’m a Chicago-trained improviser, and spent just shy of 16 years in the trenches in Chicago studying the art of improvisation, literally from the people who created this art form before they passed away. I was teaching a lot of corporate improv programs, and at the time in the mid- to late 1990s it was vacuous, and it needed a way to connect to people. My formal degree is in business, and so the art of improvisation was a perfect match for me in showing people that this specific set of tools and techniques links directly to business through the behavioral psychologies and sciences, and [through] business schools.

Improvisation is a communication-based art form that … is based in some core principles of business. It’s been used in business for 25-30 years.

Knowledge@Wharton: Do people in a business setting often think in one way and don’t necessarily think on their feet?

Kulhan: Absolutely. There are all sorts of biases that keep us from just communicating with people and keeping an open mind. What we look for in improvisation is a postponement in judgment and the critical thinking to another side so that we can take in and absorb the offers and opportunities that are being presented to us. [We could then] put ourselves in a better position to make smart decisions based on a number of variables rather than what we think is right or wrong, in the way that we look at things through our specific lens.

Knowledge@Wharton: The concept behind the book is about a building process where you’re able to do certain things. But you want to also improve what you can do and your skills, and be able to move up the chain.

Read More