What companies can learn from comedians

THE SECOND CITY is the La Scala of laughs. In its 60-year history the vast comedy club on Chicago’s North Side has, by night, hosted acts by Joan Rivers, John Candy, Bill Murray and other giants of the genre. By day it offers wannabe funny folk workshops on how to make others giggle. Contemporary greats like Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are alumni. So, increasingly, are managers, marketers and a host of other corporate types.

Firms have used comedy as a way to hone their employees’ soft skills for some time. Their number is growing, reports Kelly Leonard, the club’s boss of “applied improvisation”. Its comics have worked with Twitter, Google and Facebook to find ways for brainy but tongue-tied software engineers to interact more easily with less tech-minded colleagues in sales or strategy. Companies from Motorola and McDonald’s to Nike and Nissan believe that sending executives to comedy classes can help them get better at their day jobs. In response to clients’ complaints about its able but arrogant employees, one management consultancy asked comedians to teach its clever clogs how to be less obnoxious (or at least come across as such).

Hundreds of corporate customers think jokery can encourage serious lateral thinking among workers, and get them into the habit of welcoming others’ ideas. An improv exercise called “Yes,...

via Business Feeds

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