There is some confusion – maybe even dismissal – among business leaders, including many accountants, about the value of improvisational skills in business. If your understanding of improvisation is from what you’ve watched on Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?, where “everything is made up and the points don’t count” you need to read on. This is about business improvisation…and the points do count!
Communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills separate leaders: those with the best skills build great teams, develop stronger client relationships, and reduce anxiety and confusion in the workplace. Improvisation helps you focus and tap into the business expertise (acumen) you already own but don’t always share. Business improvisational skills help you stay in the moment, listen more attentively and adapt more authentically in order to provide effective solutions.
Let’s say you have a very important client meeting and you have a specific agenda you want to move forward. You get to the meeting and your client starts talking about their child’s scouting project – something about a fish hatchery, a topic you could not care less about. You tune them out because you have bigger fish to fry, or so you think. After a couple of minutes you say “Yes but we really do need to get back to the XYZ documents so we can complete them on time.” A lost opportunity.
What if you stay engaged in the conversation, even ask a couple of questions to learn more about the scouting project. Then you could say “Yes and I may know an expert in fish hatchery who can help your son. Would you like me to contact them and connect you two?”
Your client appreciates your interest, feels good about their decision to use your firm and is much more likely to refer you to others because you aren’t just a good accountant, your a good person.
Direction and Development
What about improvising with your staff? Have you ever dismissed younger staff members for their lack of experience, overwhelming commitment to electronic devices and belief that a personal life is important? As a staffer talks about being the social media manager for their alumni group you cut off the conversation with “Yes but don’t bring your personal life to the office.” Another lost opportunity.
What if you could learn more about them, things that could give them direction or even help support the organization. When the conversation steers toward off-duty hobbies, try “Yes, and I would like to see if there is a connection between the work our firm does and social media. Let’s plan a time to talk about that.”
It Isn’t Rocket Science
While not rocket science, improvisation is a bit like brain science. Learning new methods, practicing new skills and keeping your mind poised to accept new information is rather scientific. Improvisation is about moving things forward and gaining clarity in chaotic situations. If Same As Last Year is an issue for your organization, Business Improvisation is the solution to your challenges. Yes, and…