We're often at a disadvantage when it comes to problem-solving because we think too fast, and our analytic brains shut off new ideas before they have even emerged. Improvisation, on the other hand, creates "a set of experiences that allow you to fine-tune and hone all of the necessary skills needed to think on your feet and simply react and adapt." So says Bob Kulhan who has been studying, performing and teaching improv comedy for nearly two decades.
Kulhan introduces the two key tools of improv, which are captured by the two-word phrase "Yes, and." Kulhan says "Yes" means accepting a certain idea or situation at face value. The "and" part involves taking that idea and building onto it, whether that involves taking the idea apart or approaching it from a different angle. Kulhan says this approach creates both openness ("Yes") and a bridge to your thoughts ("and") that will foster creativity and fearlessness, eventually leading to innovation.
Kulhan, who teaches improv techniques to foster creativity in business settings, says it is important to take our critical hats off and not be afraid to take a chance, or be afraid to fail. Once that kind of environment has been established, then it is time for our analytical minds to kick in and focus on convergent thinking.
Divergent thinking has delivered "a great collection of ideas." Convergent thinking, on the other hand, involves "separating the sand from the gold and the good ideas from the bad ideas, and you start editing those out." The key to improv is simply to not allow yourself to start editing too quickly.